Saturday, 21 October 2017

The Red Rose Football Blog (Number 52)


 


Red Rose Football Blog Edition 52


October 17th 2017


 


Unfortunately, the long and arduous road back from the Dordogne to the Ribble, the packing which preceded it and the subsequent unpacking back in Lancashire took out the whole of Saturday, Sunday and Monday. As a result, I was unable to fully concentrate on the weekend’s result and this Blog will be somewhat shorter than normal. Hopefully however there will be items of interest for you all.

The cups really excite, particularly if national or international. Here therefore is the current picture of where our Red Rose County clubs are with regard to silverware this season. Only clubs still in these competitions are listed.

Where are our clubs currently with regard to Cup Competitions?

Teams

Champions League

Europa League

FA Cup

League Cup

EFL Trophy

FA Trophy

FA Vase

Manchester City                           
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Liverpool                                        
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Manchester United                      
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Everton                                           

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Burnley                                         


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Preston North End                     


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Bolton Wanderers                        


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Blackburn Rovers                       


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Wigan Athletic                             


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Fleetwood                                    


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Rochdale                                        


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Oldham Athletic                         


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Bury                                               


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Blackpool                                     


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Accrington Stanley                       


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Morecambe                                 


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AFC Fylde                                        


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Barrow                                             





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Southport                                    





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Salford City                                     





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Chorley                                            


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FC United of  Manchester          





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Curzon Ashton                             





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Warrington Town                         





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Ashton United                            





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Marine                                          





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Lancaster City                                





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Clitheroe                                         





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Bamber Bridge                              





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Droylsden                                     





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Ramsbottom United





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Prescot Cables                             





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Mossley                                        





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Atherton Collieries                         





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Burscough                                    






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Bootle






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West Didsbury & Chorlton          






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Ashton Athletic                           






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City of Liverpool                            






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Irlam






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AFC Darwen






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Charnock Richard






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Litherland REMYCA                       






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Chorley are still in the FA Cup, having earned a thrilling 4-3 win at Boston United in the 4th Qualifying Round replay. This victory, after extra time and with only 10 men, qualified them for the 1st Round proper of the competition for the first time in 27 years. In 1990 they reached Round 2 before going down 1-0 at Shrewsbury Town. Nick Haughton (pictured) notched a hat-trick at Boston but this Fleetwood Town loanee finds himself banned from the next round. The Magpies have been drawn against the Cod Army and he cannot play against his parent club.



The Best Performances of the last week


There were outstanding performances regarding Manchester City, Wigan Athletic and Accrington Stanley but the performance of the week was at the Macron Stadium. The pessimists were talking about Bolton Wanderers completing a season without a victory in Championship and manager Phil Parkinson’s P45 envelope was only awaiting  a stamp, but the “Wanderers” dug in hard against Sheffield Wednesday and the former Newcastle United striker Sammy Ameobi (pictured) gave them a first half lead.

An own goal  put them further in front but the “Owls” came roaring back and the 28 remaining minutes following Kieron Lee’s goal reduced the Bolton faithful to a state of extreme panic before they hung on valiantly for 3 points. It will no doubt continue to be a long and uphill struggle for the Greater Manchester side, still 6 points from safety, but this win removes the monkey from their back.

It would appear that run of the mill Premier League opposition are simply cannon fodder for the hot-shots of Manchester City. Stoke City’s short return trip to the Britannia Stadium must have seemed like an eternity. Mark Hughes’ men had actually clawed their way back to 2-3 just after the break but even without Sergio Aguero, the “Sky Blues” hammered home 4 more goals in the last half hour; Kevin de Bruyne proving once again that he is the best midfield player in English football. City have not yet won the title, and there are opponents capable of standing up to them, but this is one well-oiled goal-machine at the moment.

Wigan Athletic will be disappointed that only 8,000 or so spectators came to the DW Stadium to watch their comfortable 3-0 victory over Southend United, but they witnessed another stellar performance. The “Latics” were quickly into their stride, taking an early lead through Michael Jacobs. They then dominated the rest of the game but even though the “Shrimpers” were reduced to 10 men on the hour mark, the elusive second goal was still difficult to find. With 8 minutes left, Nick Powell scored another of his intuitive goals and as the flood gates opened, substitute Ivan Toney added a third. The Wigan side are having a ding-dong affair with Shrewsbury Town, but together, they are pulling away from the rest of the field, which is not good news for the three Lancashire clubs who are in the chasing pack.

It was a game of two halves at the Wham stadium where Accrington Stanley flew out of the traps but had only a Sean McConville goal to show for their first half superiority. Coventry City were much better after the interval and it was only the skill and bravery of goalkeeper Aaron Chapman which kept the hungry Midlanders at bay. There were close to 3,000 spectators at this League 2 encounter to witness the Reds closing on the promotion places.


Games to look forward to this week

Typically of newly promoted clubs, Huddersfield Town topped the Premier League table  after three games, but have failed to win since. As a result, I am extremely confident Manchester United will return from West Yorkshire on Saturday with another 3 points as they continue to chase down the league leaders. And talking of whom, Manchester City are involved in an interesting encounter when they meet Burnley also on Saturday, but the game of the weekend is at Wembley where the temporary tenants Tottenham Hotspur host Liverpool. J├╝rgen Klopp’s side must be buzzing after setting a record for English clubs in European football, hammering NK Maribor 7-0 away, but being honest, the Slovenians are far from the strength of the “Spurs” side that the Reds will encounter on Sunday. “Harry Kane Hotspur” will be formidable opponents for an inconsistent Liverpool side. Will Lovren and Matip contain London’s very own “Roy of the Rovers” and will Henderson and Can keep tabs on Alli and Eriksen? I suspect not and Pochettino’s boys will attack, attack and attack. This may well be to the Merseyside’s advantage in that if they can win the ball, Phillipe Coutinho, Mohamed Salah (pictured) and Robert Firmino can cause problems to a less than water-tight “Spurs” defence, although in Hugo Lloris, they have probably the best goalkeeper in the league. A Tottenham victory surely?.


In the 1957-58 season, Wolverhampton Wanderers were champions with Preston North End runners-up. The intervening 60 years have not always been kind to these two founder members of the Football League, but their clash at Molyneux on Saturday does re-kindle shades of glory, albeit one tier lower down the pyramid in the Championship. “Wolves”, bank-rolled by Portuguese money, have moved into top spot with ”PNE” in 5th position. The clubs are light years apart in budgetary terms but Alex Neill’s side has lost only once in twelve starts although they have too many draws on the season’s CV. They did however draw at the impressive and a positive result will keep “North End” nicely in the mix.

With seven League 1 clubs from the Red Rose County, it is always difficult to decide which the most important match is. I am however choosing Fleetwood Town’s visit to Shrewsbury Town, because a win for the Cod Army will also benefit Wigan, the Tangerines and the Rovers. The Shropshire side have made a stunning and most unexpected start to the season and have regained top spot, whereas Town are down in 9th place, although unbeaten in three. They do however concede too many goals but with their goal power, a win is a possibility. Finally Morecambe, who are now seriously flirting with relegation from League 2, face Grimsby Town at the Globe Arena. The Lincolnshire side sit squarely in the middle of the table whereas the Shrimps are two places and 4 points above the drop zone. This is a game Jim Bentley’s side can win and desperately need to win.


Quiz of the Week (Answers at the foot of the Blog)

1                    With which club was Ronald Koeman playing when he won his European Cup medal in 1988?

2                    Which current Liverpool player scored 4 times for Newcastle United v Norwich City in 2015?

3                    Billy Bingham (pictured) played for Northern Ireland in the 1958 World Cup and managed them to the finals of the 1982 and 1986 World Cups. He also played and managed at Everton, but at which Red Rose County coastal club did he start his managerial career from 1965-68?



4                    Which club humbled Manchester United 6-1 at Old Trafford in the 2011-12 season?

5                    Who is the current manager of Wycombe Wanderers who made 93 appearances for Preston North End in the 1990s?

6                    Since reaching Wembley in 1962, Burnley have only reached one semi-final, losing to which team at the neutral venue of Hillsborough in 1974?

7                    Gareth Southgate (pictured) played 57 times for England, of which 42 were gained playing with which club?



8                    With Wayne Rooney on the bench, who captained Manchester United in their first and only Europa League Final v Ajax, played in Sweden in 2017?

9                    He was Blackpool’s player of the year in 1996. He also played at Burnley and Tranmere Rovers where he is now manager and managed Fleetwood Town for 4 years including winning promotion to the Football League in 2012. Who is this Scotsman?

10                Who is the last English international to have managed Blackburn Rovers?


Post Weekend Musings


If Leicester City was everyone’s second favourite club during their stunning Premier League title run in 2015-16, then I suspect they may have been replaced by Burnley this year. That is of course apart from the fans at Ewood Park for whom the Clarets are the 92nd most loved side in English football. But the world loves an underdog and the Turf Moor club certainly fits that description. The ground accommodates just 21,401 spectators but the current average gate is over 20 thousand. It has the smallest catchment area, the lowest budget and the town itself is far and away the smallest amongst Premier League rivals. But most importantly, the club currently sits in joint 6th position, alongside those two colossi of the English game, Arsenal and Liverpool and with just one defeat to their name. And let no-one say that they have had an easy ride with fixtures. Away trips to Goodison and Anfield, Stamford Bridge and Wembley have yielded 8 points and although Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City may not be quaking in their boots at the impending arrival of East Lancashire’s finest on Saturday, much time will have been spent on working out the league’s current number one conundrum; how to beat Burnley. So what is their secret? Sound management at Boardroom level including only spending money they have, strong man management, motivation and tactical nous on the playing side and a shrewd transfer policy. Qualification for Europe may be a step too far, but the glory days of the 60s are no longer just a dream for their passionate supporters….if Sean Dyche stays.

No-one ever questioned the bravery of Kevin Davies (pictured) during his playing career.  The 

Bolton Wanderers striker never took a backward step. He met adversary full on and fashioned a reputation as a real handful, holding the record for committing the most fouls in a Premier League season. However I never thought he would be brave enough to take on the manager’s role at Southport. Haig Avenue has been the graveyard for coaches during this decade and the ex-England international will need all of his renowned courage to turn this club around. If he can make a success of it here, he will be in big demand in the future. We wish him the very best of luck.

 Roy Orbison had things on his mind other than football when he recorded his 90s hit single “I drove all night just to get to you”, but as I racked up kilometre after kilometre of French motorway at the weekend, I could only look forward to my first game of the season, watching Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park. And what a let-down it was. Plymouth Argyle, stuck at the bottom of League 1, were abjectly poor. The Rovers totally dominated the game, but their one goal was insufficient to take the 3 points. They had 25 shots but such was the waywardness of their aim, only 4 were on target. The Devon side had gone ahead with a wonder goal from Irishman Graham Carey, but although Bradley Dack equalised immediately before half time, the second half onslaught never quite materialised and I sloped off home feeling that life at times is just not worth the living.

AFC Fylde are the new kids on the block in the National League, but following their 1-0 home win over Wrexham in the FA Cup, they have now made the 1st round proper for the 4th time in five seasons. Once again ace marksman Danny Rowe saw them home and if the Coasters can defeat Kidderminster Harriers from the league below, history will be made at Mill Farm.

Quiz Answers:  1 PSV Eindhoven, 2 Giorginio Wijnaldum 3 Southport, 4 Manchester City, 5 Gareth Ainsworth  6 Newcastle United, 7Aston Villa, 8 Antonio Valencia, 9 Micky Mellon, 10 Paul Ince.