Down but never out - Is it finally coming home?

  How was the game vs Netherlands? And, what about that Watkins moment? Alex: The Watkins goal was just brilliant. He’s shown his clinical instincts for Villa over a number of seasons now and the finish he produced last night was well worthy of winning such a huge game. I’m really pleased for him and Southgate too, who acted decisively to introduce Watkins and Palmer in the 81st minute in place of the tiring Kane and influential Foden. Southgate has been criticised for his lack of proactive changes, but you have to give him credit for making such a bold move which ultimately won us the game. The match itself was, if you’ll excuse the cliche, a game of two halves. We produced our best performance of the tournament during the opening 45 with Foden excelling in a central role. The overall tempo, intensity and fluidity in our play was everything that had been missing from earlier lacklustre performances. However, the tweaks Koeman made tightened the game up in the second half and

England's Euro Struggles

With the group stage over, I caught up with the pundits to get their thoughts on England ahead of the last sixteen clash with Slovakia. What have been thoughts on England so far? Alex: Dull, uninspiring and lethargic. England’s Euro campaign has not been on easy watch thus far. The lack of balance in the side and signs that Southgate doesn’t know how to use the attacking players at his disposal have created a huge amount of talk over selection, tactics and the manager himself. Personally, I feel a few minor tweaks can turn our fortunes. Josh: Underwhelming. Anyone you ask will give you the same answer. That said, it’s never straightforward to top the group as the French kindly demonstrated for us. So in that sense, job done. The rose-tinted spectacles say “there’s a lot more to come”, the pessimistic side of me says “we’ve been here before”. A grim knockout stage loss beckons, or we’ll kick on and go the distance with a favourable side of the draw, there’s no in between Lowe-

Euros Euphoria - Part 2 - Is it coming home?

Euros Euphoria Part 2 – Is it coming home? And as promised, the blog where we give our predictions on the winner of Euro 2024. Part 2 is dedicated to England. What can we expect from the three lions this summer, what would we do if we were Gareth, and is it coming home? YOUR ENGLAND STARTING XI: Alex:                 Pickford   Walker Stones Guehi Shaw            Rice Bellingham           Saka Foden Palmer                      Kane The team I’ve selected is pretty offensive, as I feel that we need to utilise our attacking strengths. Foden was outstanding for City in a more central position, so I would have him as a 10 with Bellingham slightly deeper. This then allows the inclusion of Palmer, who I would grant a free role to. He consistently showed his ability to drift around the pitch for Chelsea and pop up in different areas where he assisted and scored from. The prospect of these attacking players linking up confirms my thinking that we should set up more offensively than previous to

Euros Euphoria - The Lowe-Down Predictions - Part 1

  Euros Euphoria And just like that, Euro 2024 is upon us. Can you believe it was three whole years ago we had our hearts broken at Wembley? This summer’s edition is, of course, being held in one of Europe’s finest footballing countries, Germany. With a whole host of countries having a genuine claim to being crowned Europe’s finest, where on earth do we start with any predictions? Luckily, I’ve enlisted the help of some footballing experts, the Lowe-Down pundits. Our first pundit needs no introduction if you read his very successful blog on Nottingham Forest’s struggles earlier this season. I caught up with Alex Jeffery to get his opinions on this summer’s football. The second pundit is a student of the game and dare I say it, even more obsessed with the beautiful game than I am. Welcome to the Lowe-Down blog, Josh Spencer. Such is Josh’s dedication to football he is currently in Japan on a scouting mission to recruit some soccer players to join his College in America where he is

The Next Generation of Managers - Top 4

  With the season all but over, our attention will inevitably turn towards silly season, the summer transfer window. The rumours are starting to swirl and in today’s world, Fabrizio Romano has probably already reported on deals months ago. However, the focus of this article is on managers. There’s a perception that besides Xabi Alonso, there’s a dearth of elite managers on the market, certainly not any shiny new ones, just the old Tuchel’s, Conte’s and Mourinho’s knocking about. Just ask Bayern Munich how their managerial search has gone. Let’s take a look at my four to look out for.     Andoni Iraola - Bournemouth For long term readers of the Lowe-Down, you might remember my segment on Iraola and his arrival at Bournemouth in my season predictions back in August. That positive endorsement I gave on Iraola is looking pretty good now! Iraola, however, had a slow start to life at the Cherries, but was backed by the board and Bournemouth soon picked up form and Iraola led them to th

Southgate - You're the one?

  Southgate - You’re the one? “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain” – The Dark Knight. We’re not talking about life and death here, much to Bill Shankly’s disappointment, but I’d say it sums up public opinion of Gareth Southgate. Maybe some people never even had him as their hero in the first place.   His appointment as England manager was at best shrewd and at its worst uninspiring. Having had relative success with the England U21s, Southgate’s stint at Middlesborough was so-so and included a relegation in his final year at Boro. Having steered England to the 2018 World Cup, you’d be lying to say you didn’t enjoy that summer. The waistcoat, the weather, the boys in white doing us proud in Russia. Southgate Mania was in full force as England reached the World Cup semi-finals. Six years later and Southgate’s approval rating has dipped significantly. The popular opinion is that Southgate is unpopular. So why is it that England’s most success

Premier League Team of the Season (so far)

  Premier League Team of the Season (so far) As the clock ticks down, the end of the January transfer window is upon us. This day has been synonymous with Harry Redknapp, Jim White and crazy signings that don’t make sense. Unfortunately, we’ve not had that excitement this year. Premier League clubs, wary of breaching FFP rules and actually being punished, have stayed away from glamour signings and today has been a quiet affair. Perhaps somewhere Peter Odemwingie is in his car waiting outside a stadium? A quieter January window and a mini winter break has meant I’ve had the opportunity to take stock of the Premier League season so far. So without further ado, my Premier League team of the season so far. Goalkeeper: Vicario I’m not quite sure we knew what to expect from Spurs’ summer signing. Not many of us had heard of the Italian and so perhaps the spotlight wasn’t on him as much as it was on others like Onana. Well, Vicario has barely put a foot wrong since replacing Hugo Llor