T’is The Season…

assistant trainer Jose Mourinho (L),Coach Louis van Gaal (R) of Barcelona during the season 1997/1998 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)

assistant trainer Jose Mourinho (L),Coach Louis van Gaal (R) of Barcelona during the season 1997/1998 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)

This past week has seen constant speculation about the future of Louis van Gaal as Manchester United manager and I have to say it’s brought out the worst of British football in my eyes.

There has been non-stop speculation about the future of a few coaches – I’m sure you need to introduction to the identities of the men I’m talking about – and it seemed that it was either only a matter of time, or one domino falling, to start a chain reaction.

That domino was Jose Mourinho who was sacked from his job at Chelsea, though I can’t say that I think he’s particularly unhappy about it. Forget the reported £40m payout, there was a guy who gave off the impression of being uninterested in the job he was doing. He was never going to walk when there was such a hefty compensation payout waiting for him but he made his own position untenable by the things he was saying and the things he was doing.

Part of me thinks he was doing that intentionally to put the pressure on the Chelsea owner at a time when he saw that Louis van Gaal’s own future at Manchester United was in doubt. Put aside my concern about the Dutchman at Old Trafford, I think it’s absolutely disgusting to see managers do this to their peers – especially when you consider the pair once worked together in Barcelona. And now Jorge Mendes is coming out adding fuel to the fire.

It looked for all the world that Van Gaal would be sacked before the Stoke game, and then it was reported that he only had the Stoke and Chelsea games to turn it around. Make no mistake, Van Gaal has looked like a man showing signs of the pressure he is obviously under, but his reaction has been somewhat understandable when you look at the nonsense that has been written.

So, the press don’t appear to have a clue what’s going on, but can you blame them when they are being cajoled into this by the likes of Pep Guardiola; Guardiola, at a club that is just as much an institution in Germany as Manchester United are in England, has told Bayern Munich he’s leaving at the end of the season. How’s that for stability? Undermining his own work and doing it at a crucial point. You think that’s bad, then think about the obvious consequence – he will be linked with all the top jobs, even though his destination seems to be Manchester City. What an absolute disgrace that is for Manuel Pellegrini, who now has to work under contract with one of football’s worst secrets hanging over him, and pretend like it doesn’t exist.

At Manchester United it’s already seeming as if people are talking about the next man in charge and it’s the usual suspects. Mourinho’s conduct at Chelsea this season underlines why I didn’t want him when he was available in 2013 and I still don’t want him now. So, who else is there?

Well, the most popular answer I seem to be hearing is Ryan Giggs. He has no experience and seems to be named purely because of how much he apparently loves the club. Well, so do I! I said on the RetroUnited.com podcast recently that if the board take that action then they would do worse than appointing someone like Roy Keane to help with the discipline and leadership that clearly seems to be lacking in the United dressing room. If you can’t find leaders, you can create them, and who better than Roy Keane? Yes, it’s a controversial suggestion, but if you are putting Giggs forward then I think it’s a logical thing to add.

In all of this I find it difficult to comprehend that there are only a few names being mentioned. It’s disturbing just how much everyone has been salivating over Mourinho – look at what he did at Chelsea. They are in a right mess. But because he’s the only ‘big’ name apparently left available out there. You might find that if Mourinho’s the only choice then Ed Woodward might be telling the Glazer’s that it’s better the devil you know.

Maybe the experience of hiring David Moyes has put off United going after someone who has worked their way up through the ranks but look at Mark Hughes’ work at Chelsea. Here is a man who probably has now earned the right at a big job – no disrespect to Stoke – but he won’t because the tendency is to go for a supposed big name and a foreign one.

I look at Steve Bruce who is doing a capable job at Hull City; yes, they have been relegated, but they are looking as if they might come straight back up. In such a difficult league as the Championship, I believe that’s a testament to Bruce’s ability which is sometimes under-rated. And even Glenn Hoddle, a visionary of the game who has been out of a managerial job for far too long.

And yet when a good job comes up, ie the Aston Villa position, then who gets hired?

Remi Garde! A man who, with all due respect, made little impression at Arsenal as a player and hasn’t made any notable impression as a manager. Tim Sherwood may not be a man universally loved in the press but it seems like that was his biggest crime; the Aston Villa job looks a very difficult one and before long they’ll be getting rid of Garde because everyone can see that what is happening at Villa Park.

Villa were quick to pull the trigger and fall into the same trap we’ve seen other clubs suffer. I don’t feel sorry for the owners but I do for the fans who don’t deserve this short term chase of pounds that is severely damaging the long term stability of these once-great clubs of ours.

It’s going to take a change in how football clubs are run at boardroom level but how likely is that when the people getting involved these days have no history or knowledge of the game?

Sweet FA

jamie-vardy-leicesterAs we head into the final international break of 2015 I found myself disturbed and appalled to read some statistics about the Premier League’s attitude to youth player development.

If you’ve listened to me on the RetroUnited.com podcast, Talksport, or even visited this website as I wrote about this very subject last year, you’ll know my concerns about the future of English football.

I’m going to share a couple of pieces of that article.

‘If you’ve read my columns or listened to me talk in recent years then you know one of my biggest concerns is the lack of English players in the top flight. The last relevant study showed that only approximately 33% of players picked on a regular basis in the Premier League were eligible for selection for England. I’ve noticed a worrying trend over the season that is only going to make matters worse in the long term.’

‘…15 British and one Irish player took to the pitch – that was 16 out of 26, with plenty of British players left as unused subs. Against Hull, Arsene Wenger used 2 British players (Aaron Ramsey, who made the difference, and Oxlade-Chamberlain), while Steve Bruce had nine of his starting line up British or Irish. Are you beginning to notice a trend?
People talk about addressing the game at grass roots level and that’s all well and good. I agree with the idea even if I squirm when I see the way they’re going about it. But it’s the same old story with English football – address one problem and ignore the others. At the top level, foreign managers will continue to bring in foreign players to instantly solve problems because let’s face it – football chairman live in the here and now, not the long term, and that means there’s no real opportunity for kids breaking through.
Pundits seem to be dismissive of it, and make sweeping statements like the foreign input has been great for the game. Yes, it has, to an extent, but it’s like all good things isn’t it – if it’s not done in moderation it will spoil everything. Clubs are suffering through mismanagement at the highest level and the cycle will probably continue with Fulham or Cardiff going down, sacking their foreign managers, reverting to a British manager who will do some great work and get them promoted, only to find themselves sacked within a couple of months.
While people observe the damage done to proud clubs (the way Fulham and Cardiff in particular have been run this season has been nothing short of farcical) the more acute damage comes to the game itself, with fewer opportunities for young players to prove themselves. And while I understand the benefits of some of the foreign players to have played in England, I don’t think foreign managers have made such a profound impact on our game to justify there being eight out of the twenty top flight clubs being coached by someone from overseas.
And so the problem grows and continues. Next time I see a stat pertaining to English players playing in the Premier League, it wouldn’t surprise me if it dropped to 25%. It’s not the English Premier League any more, is it? It’s the World Premier League that just happens to be based in England, and if some of the top dogs had their way, with that ridiculous ‘39th game’ idea, they would probably prefer to use it as a travelling circus, going around the world. How far away are we from that happening? Once the integrity goes, there ain’t much left.’

That 33% figure dropped to around 30% this year. It was recently revealed that less than 8% of Premier League minutes have been played by what the Premier League determine to be ‘home grown’ players (a quota that even includes players like Adnan Januzaj, for example, foreign-born players who aren’t eligible to play for England). It was said to me that around half of the players in the Premier League who are eligible to play for England have been capped. Half!

There has been a recent clamour for Jamie Vardy to be an England starter in time for the European Championships. Jamie had a good season for Leicester last year and is having an excellent year this time around – he should be commended for his form. And, looking at the players available, then it doesn’t seem an unreasonable shout. But that only highlights the problem that is now plaguing the English game.

Let’s go back to the 1998 World Cup squad – Alan Shearer, Teddy Sheringham, Les Ferdinand and Michael Owen were the strikers. In 2006 it was Wayne Rooney, Michael Owen, and Peter Crouch. Now Jamie Vardy is a serious contender to wear the number 9 or number 10 shirt in France next year. I’m sorry, but that to me is a prime indicator of how rapidly and worryingly our standards have dropped over the last 15 years.

The worst, or most concerning part of it all, is that this could have been so easily avoided. It can be fixed, if the FA take the strong action it should. But it won’t, because it prefers to hire yes men and concentrate on getting money in.

But, with all due respect again to Jamie, if that is the standard we are expecting of our England team, it won’t be long until the England national team is the Leicester City of international football. Only occasionally qualifying for the major competition, and expected to get a pummeling once there. We aren’t far off that now.

To be fair to Jamie it must be said he is one of the best performing English players in the league. In August 2013 the Daily Mail reported that just 68 English players were expected to play in the Premier League’s opening weekend. That was in a World Cup year! The number is even less now, and from that, a squad of 23 has to be picked. As recently as a couple of years ago you had a one in 3 chance of being picked for England, now it’s about one in two. It won’t be long at all – and this is not an over-reaction – before every English player in the Premier League is an international.

What will it take for the FA to start addressing these very real problems that are infesting the game? Because the way it’s going, I worry that they would be happy to have a Championship level team representing us at international level. And I’m sorry, but the Three Lions mean a hell of a lot more to some of us than that.

The Zakky Brennan Appeal

I was contacted by a friend of mine Dave McCune a few days back who asked me if I could get a United shirt signed for a friend of his, and so I asked him what was it for.

His friend has a 4 year old son Zakky who has stage 4 cancer and Dave asked would I like to help. I did not hesitate and said what can I do? A signed shirt was what he asked for, so off to work I went, I sent a email to my friend Ed Woodward at Manchester United and without hesitation he said ‘no problem Gordon’. United were willing to donate a signed shirt and ball, which was fantastic.

I thought to myself who else do I know that could help, so I contacted a friend of mine at Chelsea, and they sent a signed shirt as well. I did not realize how many friends I had in the sports world who would help the appeal! I then got a message to call a close friend of mine, Steve Jones (whom I have known all my life), who said that he would get a original Wayne Rooney signed England shirt from the 2014 Scotland game. I have had calls from other friends who are donating something and have promised something. I cannot tell you how much this means to me and the cause.

If anybody else would like to donate please get in touch with me.

I am just overwhelmed with the support we have got and thank everybody who is involved it means so much.

I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

If you would like to donate or offer help, please contact Gordon on gordon11hill@yahoo.com or visit their JustGiving page here.

https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/zakkybrennan

My Heart Goes Out To Luke Shaw

Having suffered a bad knee injury in a game against Leicester City. And it was in the last moment of the game, which cast doubt on my playing career. I know what it feels like.

I understand and can feel for Luke Shaw,. Only 20 years of age, great left foot, and the football world at his feet, playing for England and a new club Manchester United, just makes it harder to take.

The improvement on the field by this player can only be achieved with true dedication and hard work, Not only does he wear it on his club sleeve he also wore it with the 3 lions.

Luke has already stated that he will come back fighting and I believe him.

After seeing the tackle in the game against PSV in which we lost 2- 1, I cannot say it was a intentionally foul, A defender had to tackle to stop him from perhaps scoring.

When I saw the video again and again, it seemed like a good tackle, but looking at it,
The defender took everything from the side and that included Luke as well. There had to be something happening.

I had found out that it is a double fracture, which will keep him sidelined for some time. But with the great medical people around today and technology being what it
And being such a young player, must surly encourage him,

I wish him the very best in his recovery. This game can be the best in the world and it can also take it away.

United’s Transfer Saga

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Even out here in Tampa having read and studied the David De Gea transfer situation and thought about it quite a lot, it seems to me that the whole point has been missed on the transfer of David De Gea.

Real Madrid as it widely known is short of money. The TV rights in Spain are being shared out a whole lot more fairly.

Ed Woodward rejected one offer from Madrid earlier in the summer and those at United grew increasingly annoyed with their public chase of the goalkeeper without putting in another bid that was serious until deadline day.

Florentino Perez wasn’t really in a great place to make a big splash in the transfer window as Real Madrid were not in a position where they could spend big money. Or, at least, the kind of money that United wanted, which is why the offers, when they did come, were so insulting. As Perez had made the promise to buy a Galactico every year, he had to be seen to go after De Gea, and hoped that he could try and force United to sell on the cheap on the very last day of the window.

Is that befitting behavior for a man in charge of running one of the biggest clubs in the world? No, and with the statements he has come out with after the deadline closed, we’ve seen the measure of the man. I wouldn’t be surprised if his days as president are numbered yet again. He may have attempted to play a clever PR game but it’s blown up in his face and he has shown his hand where Manchester United offered to contact UEFA and he refused. Finally DavidDe Gea has signed a four year contract, so obviously he has seen through it as well.

At United I was a little concerned to see us spend so much on Anthony Martial. I’ve been a firm believer that we should give one of our kids coming through a chance but I think with the transfer window closing, the club chose to take a gamble on the young player.

The jury is out on Martial – I know some people will be excited with his goal against Liverpool but let’s remember Memphis Depay got off to a great start. I just hope that these two signings don’t end up being positions in the team that could just as easily have been filled by a Ross Barkley, Harry Kane or James Wilson.

We will just have to wait and see… very interesting.

Elite Camp In Annandale

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The Gordon Hill Elite ID Camp comes to Annandale United Football Club, Virginia, USA.

Gordon held a four day Elite ID Camp from Thursday August 13th to Sunday August 16th with over 100 players in attendance between our U9s and U18s Boys.

“It was an unbelievable experience for all of these boys to see Gordon’s understanding and knowledge of the game, personal character and technical expertise and how he was able to communicate his vision of what he was looking for from every single player,” said Trevor Parker, Director of Coaching.

“As a young boy I watched Gordon Hill, he was my favourite player and when out on the local pitch or with my team I constantly tried to play like him. Fast forward to 2015, what a great man and a great coach! The players of Annandale soaked up his passion, understanding and teaching of the game. I have been around football all my life and this was four days of fantastic football for our youth and all of our coaches” said Bo Amato, Technical Director.

Annandale United FC will continue this relationship with Gordon, assisting with the coaching when our 16s, 17s and 18s Boys travel to Orlando over Labor Weekend for the Disney Soccer Showcase.

Gordon will then travel back to Virginia In December to run his 2nd Elite ID Camp, focusing on improving all of our players techniques and also looking for players to take to England next Spring and Summer 2016.

“I very much enjoyed my time up in Virginia and was very impressed with the set up they have at Annandale,” said Gordon. “As everyone knows, I am passionate about the future of these young American players and it is encouraging to see the work being done. I look forward to working more with them in the future and, using my work with Chesterfield, hopefully presenting some with an insight into the English game.”

A New Season!

Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 08.55.21A new season is here already and I wanted to share a few thoughts on Man Utd’s summer.

Bastian Schweinsteiger has been a great player and has been saying all of the right things about joining United. But talk is cheap. What happens if, all of a sudden, he gets injured, and struggles to perform on the pitch?

If he’s not producing it then it doesn’t matter what he says or how many nice pictures he takes. I can’t take anything away from the player that he has been. He gave everything for Bayern Munich and had such a fantastic and wonderful record there. But the second you get to Old Trafford, I’m no longer interested in what you did before. I’m interested in the future and knowing what he can give our club going forward. Look at van Persie. He said all the right things when he was at the club but now he’s in Turkey, where is he held in highest esteem? Probably Arsenal – I’m already hearing people saying he was a one season wonder at United.

I admit I’m concerned about Schweinsteiger’s injury record but he starts with a blank page at Old Trafford and as I always do, I will see what he does on the pitch here.

Familiar problems

Adnan Januzaj has a big year in front of him. He had a good breakthrough year and got a lot of criticism for not reaching the same standards last season. I’m not sure he’ll be a good centre forward but it’s a big year, whether he goes on loan or stays at United.

It’s like Harry Kane, who will have a lot of pressure this year. There has been talk of United moving for him but I would wait some time. We don’t know much about his reliability – is he as good as a Suarez?

You’re not letting players discover themselves. To me it’s the same old, same old and try as I might, I never end up really encouraged by what I see. And it’s so difficult because I keep banging the same old drum… On the training pitch I practice what I preach by encouraging young players to enjoy the game and try different things… while I’m away in the US, I always hear the same noises about how encouraged everyone is about the state of the game in the UK, but I go back for months at a time and realise nothing really has changed. It really is upsetting.

Could Bale be the right man for United?

Gareth has had some stick but I think he’s done a great job over in Spain. He’s suffered abuse from Spanish fans who don’t like him and it’s been unfair. I’ve seen a few Madrid games where he has been isolated and almost frozen out of games by their own players but he’s done as well as he could be expected to.

On the left hand side he would be a phenomenal signing, but what price do you pay? He’s rarely injured, he’s tremendously fit, and has so much talent. When you hear of the money we are looking to pay for some players, I don’t understand why Bale hasn’t been the number one target, and why he wasn’t first choice when we brought in Di Maria in the first place.

Gareth might not want to be seen as a failure in Spain but I don’t think that he would be if he left. At this point I think it’s probably safer to bet on him staying at Madrid.

I also wanted to share with you information of a product I’ve been working on over the past few years.

‘Cool Kapz’ will revolutionize comfort for console gamers. In recent years consoles have developed their controllers to become more ergonomically sound for customers but for serious and dedicated gamers that’s only half the battle.
After long periods controllers can become hot and uncomfortable, causing breaks or interruptions in play, often at crucial moments.
‘Cool Kapz’ changes all that. These smooth, comfortable and customisable accessories fit snugly on the tip of the analog sticks of your controller to help control hand and finger temperature. ‘Cool Kapz’ are made with the most tehnologically advanced silicone materials in order to provide comfort for long periods. They fit perfectly on your controller and can be used with other accessories, providing no obstruction and only enhancement to your game play.