Real Oviedo – A Fall From Grace and back again?

Back in the 1930s the Spanish La Liga was flourishing. Teams like Real Madrid and Barcelona were excelling, but there was one side that was consistently challenging for the top spots every season, yet today they are relatively unknown. That team? Real Oviedo.

The team from the Spanish north were formed in 1926 with the merging of Stadium Ovtense and Real Club Deportivo Oviedo, and just seven years later found themselves in the top tier of the league system. Between 1933 and 1936 top striker Isidro Langaraformed a legendary front three with Gale Herrerita and Emilin and won the Pichini Trophy (the top scorer’s award) three years in a row. Those years were Oviedo’s greatest, as they scored 174 goals in 62 league games, but their run was halted along with the rest of competitive football in the country with the outbreak of WW2, and the side was relegated to the second division due to their pitch not meeting the league’s requirements. For a few decades, the side interchanged between the first and second division, even spending one season in the third division in 1978, before reattaining their second league status at the first try.

Real Oviedo first squad

After a stadium renovation for the 1982 Spanish World Cup, the side enjoyed a second, shorter, spell of success. In the early 1990s, they finished regularly in the European spots and enjoyed around a decade of domestic success.

However, in the early noughties, the Oviedistas were relegated to the fourth division and fell upon serious financial trouble. Only a promotion playoff final win on penalties against the Mallorca reserves could save them from folding, but even then they were still in serious trouble.

But, recently, the club’s sizable fan base and the rest of football has grouped together to save the club from bankruptcy. Former players Juan Mata, Santa Cazorla and Michu all made large contributions, and Carlos Slim, the world’s richest man at the time, bought $2.5million worth of stakes, and the club was finally saved. Finally, once again the club are challenging for a La Liga spot, sitting third and just a point off of Cadiz in the automatic promotion spot in second.

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However, Oviedo’s defence this season has shown signs of leaks so those problems will need to be patched up if they are to retain their spot in the playoffs and challenge for the automatic promotion spots.

Do you think that Real Oviedo will return to their full former success, or will they be locked out of La Liga for the foreseeable future? I think that we will see Oviedo back in the top ten of La Liga within a decade, but it will take work. Leave your opinion in the comments below.

Billy

 

 

The Interview: 5 Minutes With Jim Gannon

I was given the fantastic opportunity to have a quick 5-minute interview with Stockport County manager, Jim Gannon, this Saturday. County had just beaten Spennymoor Town 3-2 after a hat-trick from 25-year-old forward Jason Oswell. Here’s how it went.

B: So Jim, a brilliant three points from a game against opposition in the top four. Jason Oswell’s hat-trick takes him up to twenty goals this season already, are you planning to build the squad around him for the upcoming cup match at Lancaster?

J: Not particularly, no. Of course Jason is a big part of the team, but there’s more to winning than goal scoring; we have to be strong and resilient in defence and well built, but Jason’s a key part of that, certainly one of the key measurements for players is goals and assists, and Jason’s stats are certainly good.

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B: You’ve previously said that football should be played with a passing style of play. Do you think that playing attractive football gets rewarded in the long run?

J: I think so. I played with Danny Bergara’s (Legendary Stockport County manager) team and his was a bit more of a direct approach, and as the seasons went on the players got a little bit fatigued from than, and when you play at Wembley it doesn’t work, you know? It’s difficult because I’ve always been a big believer in passing football, and I’m also a big believer in effective football and we’ve got to know when we can play through teams, we’ve got to learn how to play behind teams, and we’ve got to learn how to play down the side of teams, and we need to know when to play and when not to play, and that’s when you get a really effective side.

B: This is your third stint in charge here at Stockport, are you expecting to stay here for the rest of your career, or do you want to move up in the league system?

J: If I move up in the league system it’ll be with Stockport. No, It was a gamble coming to the club for a second time, because I knew that where the club was headed financially was going to portray badly on everyone at the club, but I wanted what was best for the Football club, and this time I want to build a football club and do my best for it. You know, I want to take this club as far as possible.I know there’s a lot of managers at other clubs, and I’m not being disrespectful, but they try to make the team successful just as a platform for their own careers, but I’ve enjoyed playing in the Champions League, managing in the Europa league, and this is my hometown, my family are Stockport fans, and I want nothing but the best for them. Last time I left Stockport I didn’t expect to be in management again until someone gave me a call and asked me to take a few games while the manager was suspended, and I went in on a week-to-week basis and the manager was there two years, so as long as I’m wanted here, and people still believe in me, I’ll be here.

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Gannon showed great class and expertise to see through the result in the game, and he continued in this trend throughout the interview.

I’d like to say a massive thanks to everyone at Stockport County for making this possible, especially to Jim Gannon and Jon Keighren. Also, photo credits to Nick Midgley.

I hope you enjoyed this post, if so then please leave a like. Leave any comments, queries and questions in the comment section below. If you want to see more from The Dugout and be told first when I post new content then you can follow the site, just use the little widget on the home page. There will be a new post out soon, so stay tuned.

Billy

Has The FA Cup Lost Its Magic?

The FA cup is the world’s oldest club football competition still being played, and is also one of the most famous tournaments in sport as a whole, with every single side in the country’s top ten leagues battling it out for a chance at lifting the trophy at Wembley. This creates some fantastic big-team-takes-on-small-team games, and, as a result, some fantastic upsets. This year’s biggest ‘giant killing’ so far has surely been Boreham Wood (of the conference)’s last minute defeat of Blackpool in the first round proper, but AFC Fylde’s cup run, including taking Wigan Athletic to a replay in the second round, cannot go unnoticed.

The Emirates Football Association Challenge Cup, to give it its full name, has become world renowned for its ‘magic’, tiny minnows, like Lincoln, toppling Premier League giants, like Burnley, and that’s exactly what happened in the last-16 game between then-conference side Lincoln and Premier League side Burnley, with the Red Imps’ Sean Raggett encrypting his name into the history books with a last minute winner at Turfmoor.

lincoln celebrate

However, especially for the bigger teams, the Cup has been more of an annoyance than an opportunity. Many managers have complained about fixture congestion over the Christmas period in recent years, with FA Cup replays becoming a big part of the problem. Steve McLaren, the Derby Manager, said earlier this year that he thinks the FA should “look at the competition and say ‘lets only have one tie’ because nobody wants this”.

The concept of all cup ties going straight to extra time and penalties after a draw would certainly make ties between the lower league clubs and higher league clubs more enjoyable, with sides being forced to go for a game on the night, rather than sitting back and playing for a replay and the tv money.

Of course, in McLaren and Co.’s eyes at least, this has to be an improvement from what has happened before. Before 1990, every tie in the competition before the fifth would go to a replay if drawn, and if the replay was drawn, another replay was played, and so on and so forth. During the 1975 tournament, Fulham played a total of twelve games over six rounds before reaching the final.

Problems like this have meant that Premier League sides, especially, have begun to devalue the cup competitions, using it as more of an opportunity to field younger players and experiment with the squad, taking the league as the priority. And I can understand why. Fixture congestion over Christmas really is awful, and I’m sure neither side ever wants to play a replay if they’ve drawn a game, rather than settling it there and then.

But, a big argument for the existence of replays is penalty shootouts. It’s argued that it is more a matter of luck and mental state, rather than genuinely beating your opponent for skill. A replay involves the all-round quality and skill that a penalty shootout lacks.

The FA cup has, in recent years, been host to some fantastic upsets, as expected. Lincoln and Sutton United’s fantastic cup runs last year cannot go unnoticed, nor can FA Cup upset kings Blyth Spartans’ challenges.

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So is the FA Cup the same magic-filled tournament that it was thirty years ago? Leave your opinion in the comments below.

If you enjoyed this post then please leave a like, leave any comments, queries or questions in the comments below. If you want to see more from the Dugout and be told first when I post new content then you can follow the site, just enter your Email into the widget on the homepage, it’s completely free. There will be a new post out soon, so stay tuned.

Billy

How Important Is Paul Pogba To Man United?

Over-priced, overrated, a waste of money: three things that Paul Pogba was branded as when he signed for Man United back in August last year. But, as the Frenchman makes an impact on his return from injury, we’re asking whether he was any of those things.

Of course, last year £89m was a hell of a lot of money, even for a footballer of his age and level, breaking the world record for a transfer fee at the time. Yet, with Moussa Dembele’s £130m move to Barcelona and Neymar’s £200m move to PSG meaning the record-fee has more than doubled since, Pogba’s fee now seems a far more reasonable price (not that you could ever truly justify paying someone £89,000,000 to play for your football club).

pogba to united

Pogba was certainly slow to settle in at Old Trafford, receiving more than his fair share of criticism over his first few months. He was told to “stop dancing and focus on his football”, along with many other things that I cannot put to a public audience. To be fair, it was clear that the huge price tag was playing on his mind for a while. He often tried unnecessary long passes, to no avail, and always seemed to either take too many risks or too few.

Part of the reason Pogba was criticised, I think, is because of his lack of goals and assists early on. Pogba’s reputation as a goal-scoring midfielder in Italy had come across to England, and when he failed to notch a single goal or assist in the first few games it sent doubts into United fan’s minds; “Not another Di Maria!”.

If Pogba came in as a reputation of being a replacement for Roy Keane, for example, a box-to-box midfielder there to break up attacks and move the team forward he wouldn’t have got so much of a bad press. Pogba is more of a cross between Paul Scholes, Roy Keane and N’golo Kante, not sticking especially to one certain midfield position, but being an indispensable asset in the middle of the park.

Pogba did settle in last season, proving to be a hugely important cog in the midfield, forming a vital partnership with Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He began this season very strongly indeed, scoring a few goals, tacking on big assists and adding some power in the side to help break down other midfields.

However, the Frenchman’s hamstring injury early on in the Champions League game against Basel ruled him out for a few months. During this time United’s blistering form slumped, losing 2-1 to Huddersfield, 1-0 to Chelsea and falling 8 points behind their cross-town rivals, City, at the top of the table.

Pogba made his return this weekend, in a 4-1 win against Newcastle, bagging a brilliant assist for Anthony Martial, to level the game, tapping home a Marcus Rashford header to make it 3-1, and muscling the Newcastle side into submission.

United, during Pogba’s absence, lacked the muscle, flair and creativity that they had earlier on in the season. With him in midfield, you expected United to score and create, to the point where you would have to sculpt your game plan around the almost guarantee that you would concede at least once, yet, without him, the Red Devils were slower, more static and less creative, and relied almost entirely upon Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial to make the goals.

pogba vs newcastle

Also, was it a coincidence that when Pogba left, so did Lukaku’s goal scoring form, and when he returned, so did Lukaku’s goals? I think not. We know that the two players have a strong connection on and off the field, and Lukaku looked isolated up front over the last month or so. The biggest impact he had on the side was his headed assist for Anthony Martial to win the game against Tottenham, but now that Pogba was back, big Rom got a goal and set up one, thumping home in a one-on-one and crossing to Marcus Rashford to cushion for Paul Pogba.

So, how will Pogba’s return to United affect their title chances this season? Leave your opinion in the comments below.

Also, if you guys have any requests or recommendations for topics you think I should write about then please leave them in the comments, I love to hear any opinions, comments and requests.

If you enjoyed this post then please leave a like. Leave any comments, queries or questions in the comments section below. If you want to see more from the dugout and be told first when I post new content then you can follow the site, just enter your email into the link on the homepage to join the updates list. There will be a new post out soon, so stay tuned.

Billy

England Are Boring – But Could They Challenge At the World Cup?

Brazil and Germany; the two most successful national sides in footballing history. A total of nine world cups between them, and home to players such as Neymar, Reus, Neuer, Coutinho, Marcelo, Hummels and many more of the world’s best. But what do they have in common? They both played England recently.

England’s complete failure at their last five or six major tournaments has almost certainly removed (even further than before) the majority of expectancies they will get for the World Cup next year in Russia. What’s even more discouraging is their style of play. Often boring, slow and frustrating, and the fact that we know how good the squad disappoints even more. We know that we have quick and talented wingers, prolific forwards (well, one at least) and clever midfielders. It’s not England’s golden generation just yet, but it’s certainly a very talented squad.

England’s slow and frustrating approach is due to a lot of things. The lack of a creative attacking midfielder in the starting line up made the link between midfield and attack collapse, but this was largely due to the absence of Dele Alli. There was no prolific striker to finish opportunities, but this was mostly due to the absence of Harry Kane.

The game against Brazil was congested in midfield and England’s defence often looked strained, which isn’t surprising seeing as they were defending against Neymar, Gabriel Jesus and Coutinho. Gabriel Jesus came close to breaking the deadlock after latching on to a genius pass from Neymar, but was substituted off after an injury late on.

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Ruben Loftus-Cheek failed to fully replicate his quality performance in the Germany game, being overloaded with the hard-pressing, clever and tricky Brazillian style of play, showing an unfortunate lack of experience against high-class sides. Defender Joe Gomez won Man-Of-The-Match, showing a composed performance and experience beyond his age, muffling the danger of the Brazillian front three.

Recently, both the U17s national side and the U20s  national sides have won their world cup competitions, showcasing some fantastic young players. Rhian Brewster, Liverpool’s young forward, scored a hat-trick in the U17s semi-final, and Manchester City’s Phil Foden scored a brace in the final as England came back from 2-0 down to beat Spain 5-2.

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But what about the senior World Cup? The tournament in Russia next year will be crucial, as ever, for England, whose fans will be hoping for them to at least reach the quarter-final, and will certainly demand more than the group stages that the Three Lions failed to escape in 2014. The draw for the group stage will take place on December 1st, with England in the second group of seeds, meaning that there will be at least one tough side in their group. According to the BBC, the bookies make England the seventh favourite to win it, behind Belgium, Brazil, Spain, Argentina, France and Germany, the favourites.

If England are to challenge at the World Cup they will need to improve in a few crucial areas. They still need a goalkeeper who can be relied upon when needed, as I think Joe Hart is too inconsistent. Chris Smalling and John Stones will need to be on top form to keep the defence locked up, and they will need to have both Dele Alli and Harry Kane linking up and scoring goals.

Just to finish off, I’d like to welcome our new Europa league and Championship correspondent, Joey, to the Dugout team.

If you enjoyed this post then please leave a like. Leave any comments queries and questions in the comment section below. If you want to see more from the Dugout and be told first when I post new content then you can follow the site, just enter your Email into the widget on the home page and you’re done! There will be a new post out soon, so stay tuned.

Billy

The Interview: Tom Greaves – FC United of Manchester

So on Saturday I got the fantastic chance to conduct an interview with the newly-appointed caretaker manager of FC United Of Manchester, Tom Greaves.

Greavesy, as he is affectionately known by his fans, is currently working as a player-manager, continuing his career as a successful forward. He has scored just under 100 goals in 240 appearances for FC United, and is one of the most popular figures at the club.

Greaves takes over from long-serving manager Karl Marginson, who has been at the club since their inception in 2005, as an alternative to the Glazer-owned Manchester United

FC United had just beaten fellow relegation strugglers Nuneaton town 2-1 in what can only be described as a six-pointer.

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The man himself looking for space.

Here’s how it went:

Q: So you got a crucial 3 points today in what was, possibly, one of the best performances that FC United has produced. How do you think it’s going so far?

A: I’m enjoying it, yeah. We had two great coaching sessions on Tuesday and Thursday.  The lads Jack and Tom had two really great coaching sessions, we worked on things that I thought we needed to work on. We went into the game today, I told the lads to “give me 110% and wear their hearts on their sleeves and realise why they’re at this football club”, and I think they’ve done that.

Q: There seemed to be a bit of a scramble for the second goal, which eventually won it. Do you know who put it in?

A: Haha, Danny Brady will try and claim it, but I think it’s gone in off their player.

Q: It was very tightly contested towards the end, very nervy. Is that something you’ll want to address, or is it just part of the game?

A: It’s all just part and parcel of the game I think.I never think FC United do it the easy way. We felt comfortable at 2-0, but they nicked one back. Their lad’s done well, been sharp to pick up the loose ball, he got there first. But yeah, it brought a few nerves in for the last ten, fifteen minutes, but yeah, part and parcel of the game.

Q: The loose ball was the result of a slip in the goalkeeper’s hands, do you think that someone was at fault there?

A: Not at all, no. The ‘keeper’s been outstanding today they could have had three or four but Lloydy’s pulled out some great saves, so no, I don’t think he’s at fault.

Q: Just one last question. We know a few other higher-end teams have a three, five or ten year plan. Do you think you have one implemented at FC United?

A: It’s a bit early for that at the minute, we’re just taking it one training session at a time, but I’m sure when we sit down and talk about it we’ll get something in place. A bit similar to other clubs I think. We have some fantastic youth talent coming through, so we’d love to make the most of them. So yeah, pushing players through and giving youth a chance is important.

Q: So would you consider going for the job full time?

A: We’ll see. Like I said we’re just going one game at a time at the moment, but I’ve enjoyed it so far, and if I carry on enjoying it then we’ll see.

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I’d just like to say an absolutely massive thank you to all the guys at FC United who made this possible, with special mentions to George Baker and Tom Greaves. Also photo credits to Nick Midgley.

If you enjoyed this post then please leave a like, leave any comments queries and questions in the comment section below. If you want to see more from the Dugout and be told first when I post new content then you can follow the site, just enter your Email onto the widget on the homepage. There will be a new post out soon, so stay tuned.

Billy

How Was Football Created?

Football is the world’s most widely played and enjoyed sport, and also one of the oldest, but where did the beautiful game begin?

Many people claim that football originated in Ancient China, where the traditional Chinese and Korean game of Cuju, or Tsu Chu, where participants would aim to keep a ball in the air for as long as possible without using their hands. It started off in the 3rd century BC as a military training exercise, which was spread throughout southeast Asia. Cuju is officially recognised by FIFA as the earliest ever record of a game that evolved into football.

cuju

There were also records of a game played by Roman soldiers where they would attempt to kick or throw an object between two markers, with a designated player standing between them, however, this is far less well documented that Cuju.

There is very little evidence of football-like games for a very long time after the Romans, however, during the dark ages, a game called ‘mob-football’ became popular across Britain and France. Mob football consisted of two teams battling against each other to get an inflated pig’s bladder to a certain point.

The teams in mob football often had over a hundred members, as most men in the village would join in, and the ‘pitch’, if you can call it that, would be more like a cross-country course, spanning between the two villages facing off against each other and often requiring literal miles of running to even reach the goal. The rules were pretty much ‘if it doesn’t kill them, it’s allowed’.

The game clearly caused masses of damage to both the landscape and the participants, to the point where that in 1314 King Edward II tried to ban the game. He proclaimed “There is a great noise in the city caused by hustling over large balls, from which many evils may arise which God forbid. We command and forbid, on behalf of the King, on pain of imprisonment, such a game to be played in the City”. Basically, “It’s really loud and people are getting hurt, so I’m banning it”.

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Up to 60 attempts were made to ban football within England before the 1600s, when it was finally made legal. The game was clearly still frowned upon by the upper classes, however, with Shakespeare himself using “football player” as an insult in his play ‘King Lear’ and also within ‘A Comedy Of Errors’. However, in King James I’s ‘Book Of Sports’ in 1618 he encourages Christians to play the game on Saturday afternoons, as a way to rebel against the strictness of the Puritans.

The rules of the game were finally cemented back in 1856, where it was declared that football was a game where players must put a ball between two sticks without using their hands, and the game we know and love was born.

There were, however, very few regulations on the height of the goal, and more often than not a string was hung at the height of the goalkeeper’s highest reach-point and this was declared the highest the ball may go in the goal. Similar rules were used at Rugby School, where Rugby was created, which is one of the reasons why Rugby posts have no limited height.

The FA was founded in 1863, and one of its first actions was to specify the requirements for the size and shape of the goal, including the introduction of a solid crossbar.The founding of the FA leads to the modern and well-known game that we have today.

Overall, football has a long and complex history, but without it, we wouldn’t have the game we have today. From its roots in Southeast Asia to Tudor mob football, every part of its history has shaped the modern game.

Just one last thing, we have some really amazing things happening in the next week, so keep an eye out for that.

If you enjoyed this post then please do leave a like. Leave any comments, queries and questions in the comment section below. If you want to see more from The Dugout and be told when I post new content then you can subscribe to the site, just enter your Email address into the widget on the homepage. It’s totally free! Like I said, we have some amazing things happening this week, so stay tuned!
Billy

Will Marcus Rashford Fulfil His Potential?

I was at the U21s Manchester derby at the Etihad stadium with my Dad a couple of years ago, just as something to do for the afternoon. Little did we know that one player in that game would be known as one of English football’s brightest talents just a week later.

The afternoon hadn’t got off to the best start. Our ticket confirmation Email had told us to collect our tickets from the ticket office outside the Etihad Stadium. We set off fairly early, luckily, as it turned out that we actually had to go to Old Trafford to collect our tickets. So, after shooting off across Manchester, we got our tickets and headed back to the Etihad. We missed the first ten minutes of the game, but we re-arrived at the Etihad to masses of United fans gathered outside the stadium having been not allowed in to see the match.

After being banded around by the very poor organisation and clear lack of communication between the clubs, we got into the Etihad. Despite the struggle to get into the game and City having the ‘home’ advantage, the United fans just about outnumbered the City fans.

The game itself wasn’t a great affair. It was cagey and very short on space, but City took the lead in the 17th minute, thanks to a low drive from Ashley Smith-Brown. It was in the second half when United were running at City from a counter-attack when a long-legged thin winger took the ball on the outside of the penalty area and began to drive at the right-back. His close control held onto the ball, and he managed to beat the full-back with a fantastic, Ronaldinhoesque flip-flap nutmeg, pushing the ball to his right but quickly drawing it back the other way in the same movement, sliding the ball between the defender’s legs and sprinting inside to play in a cross. Eventually, the move came to nothing, however, I said to my Dad at that time “Wow. That kid’s got something. That’s the kind of thing the senior team needs, someone who can beat a defender and create a chance”. That “Special Kid”‘s name? Marcus Rashford.

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The U21s derby turned out to be Rashford’s last game for the second team, being rewarded for his performance with a start in the Europa League against FC Midtjyllend for the senior side, thanks to a last-minute injury to Anthony Martial, in a tie in which United had lost the away leg. Rashford got two second-half goals to win United the game and seal their place in the next round. He was soon given a place in the starting eleven against Arsenal in the Premier League, where the 17-year-old scored twice again in a 3-2 victory. Marcus Rashford had announced himself to the world.

Since then Rashford has scored 24 goals in 82 appearances for Man United, with a lot of those appearances coming from late substitutions. For someone who only finished their A-levels in June last year, he has already achieved more than most professional footballers will in their whole career, winning the FA cup, EFL cup and playing for England at Euro 2016, with a place in the World Cup squad almost a certainty.

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The youngster from Wythenshawe clearly has plenty of potential, but can he realise it? We’ve seen many players at that age make a bright start but, ultimately, fail to make the grade with the pressure of the media weighing down on them. Players like Tom Cleverly, Ravel Morrison, and, of course, Adnan Januzaj, have all succumbed to the pressure. However, it seems the more people are watching him, the more scrutiny he comes under, the more he is expected to fail, the better he plays. Take his England debut. People were saying that he wasn’t ready, he was so young, but what happens? Nine minutes in, goal for Marcus Rashford.

He has had a regular place in United’s destructive attack this season, often grabbing a goal or assist, before being taken off for Anthony Martial late on, only for the Frenchman to do the same within ten minutes. Rashford’s relationship with Martial has been intriguing. Both young, quick players who have a deadly finish and can play either out wide or up top. It was when Martial was injured when United relied upon him so heavily during the 2015/16 season when Rashford made his breakthrough, and they have battled for places since. We rarely see both players starting alongside each other, and they both talk very little about each other, but there is no clear rivalry between them. What is for sure is that both have a very bright future ahead of them.

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Rumours are now beginning to circulate about a new contract offer for the young forward, said to be including a dramatic wage boost. With his partnership with Romelu Lukaku blooming and his form being at a level it’s never before been at, it wouldn’t be surprising.

With a trip to Lithuania with the national team later this afternoon, once again all eyes will be on him to help follow up from England’s, frankly, boring game against Slovenia, hopefully injecting his pace and enthusiasm into the side to inspire a much more exciting performance.

So, do you think Marcus Rashford will achieve what is expected of him, or will he just turn out to be another Ravel Morrison? Leave your opinion in the comments below.

If you enjoyed this post then please do leave a like, leave any comments queries and questions in the comment section below. If you want to see more from The Dugout and be told first when I post new content then you can follow the website, just enter your Email into the link on the home page. There will be a new post out next weekend, so stay tuned!

Billy

What Would Catalan Independence mean for FC Barcelona?

The Catalan Independence referendum, which took place on Sunday, reportedly ended with around 90% of voters choosing to break away from Spain. Catalonia has been part of Spain since when, back in the 15th Century, King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella married and united their kingdoms to form what is now Spain.

However, the region has had far from a smooth relationship with the rest of Spain. It has its own language and flag, and many residents have always been in favour of independence, as we saw in Sunday’s referendum results.

Catalonia’s independence will, undoubtedly, send ripples through not only the political landscape of Europe but European football. FC Barcelona, Spain’s second most successful football team of all time (behind only Real Madrid), has been known to be very pro-independence, and have often clashed with the pro-union league authorities, and, for that matter, Real Madrid.

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Supposedly, should Catalonia become independent from Spain, which is looking increasingly likely, all of the Catalan Football sides would be forced to leave the Spanish league. Seeing as Girona and RCD Espanyol (the pro-union club in Barcelona) are the only other two sides which could cause any sort of a threat to Barcelona, with maybe the inclusion of Real Sociedad, who were members of the original football association of Catalonia, I would struggle to see any form of Catalan League include Barcelona for any long stretch of time.

Hence, that would mean Barcelona would face having to find a new league to compete in. There have been rumours that they could enter the French Ligue 1 to compete with Monaco and PSG, or maybe the Portuguese Primeira Liga, and even some have said that the Premier League could be an option.

However, I can’t really see the Premier League as a viable option. Away trips from Newcastle to Barcelona won’t be the most appealing, seeing as fans of Northern sides already complain about a trip to Bournemouth. The French league does seem, at least to me, like a possible option, as they already have a successful side from a different country in their ranks in Monaco.

However, I think the most likely outcome would be for Barcelona to strike a deal with La Liga and to remain in their current league. Their fiery relationship with Real Madrid creates one of the world’s greatest matchups in El Classico, and neither La Liga, Barcelona or Real Madrid will want to lose the advertising and publicity they gain from it.

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El Classico is always a feisty affair

But independence from Spain could mean more than just a change of league. Players who already play for the club could be inclined to leave, and, with the loss of Neymar already causing problems, life without more of their illustrious squad could be a hugely difficult time. There has been talk of Pique, Suarez and even Messi searching for pastures new, and I’m sure that should they be serious about a move there will be no lack of potential suitors.

And without their world-class superstars, iconic ‘El Classico’ battle twice each year or their familiar league and style you can’t help but wonder what would come of FC Barcelona should they leave La Liga.

So what do you think of the Predicament Barcelona are in? Which league do you think they would join should they leave La Liga, and how will they fare? Leave your opinion in the comments below.

On a side note, once again, huge apologies for the lack of posts recently, I took my final exam yesterday so I’m sure things will be back to normal in no time. I do have some hugely exciting things lined up, working with some hugely exciting people, so I can’t wait to share that with you. There will be a post out tomorrow, and one again on Sunday, which will be the general weekend’s football overview.

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Billy