Paul Wilson

Author's posts

Jan 07

Hectic Premier League schedule is killing a few managers as well as players

Fixture programming bordering on stupid can be accepted with a shrug if it is the same for everyone but it was not in December, leaving questions to answerNever mind what TS Eliot had to say about April, there can be little doubt that December is “the …

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2018/jan/07/premier-league-schedule-killing-managers-players

Jan 07

Happy-go-lucky Shrewsbury ready to punish Moyes’s grim West Ham realism | Paul Wilson

Paul Hurst’s high-flyers have been defying expectations all season and will offer a stern FA Cup test for a side with both eyes on Premier League safetyA funny thing happened when Shrewsbury Town played at Wigan on Boxing Day. The visitors earned a goa…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2018/jan/07/shrewsbury-david-moyes-west-ham-fa-cup-third-round

Dec 13

Manchester City could be doing rivals a favour by taking heat out of title battle | Paul Wilson

It is hardly going out on a limb to suggest for example that Jürgen Klopp and Liverpool may see a clearer path to the shiny stuff in the Champions League this season than at home where they are already miles off the paceWhen Antonio Conte said at the s…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2017/dec/13/manchester-city-rivals-favour-heat-title-race-liverpool

Nov 30

Dave Challinor: ‘I don’t do the long throw any more. Doctor’s orders’

The former Tranmere captain, a record breaker with his long throws, is manager of the AFC Fylde side who take on Wigan in the FA Cup second round on Friday – and he is no stranger to inflicting cup upsetsLook closely at the AFC Fylde kit when the Natio…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/nov/30/dave-challinor-long-throw-fylde-wigan-fa-cup-second-round

Nov 16

Premier League health check: the overachievers and underperformers | Paul Wilson

The table doesn’t lie but teams such as Burnley and Brighton are exceeding all expectations while Swansea and Everton have disappointed badly. Here’s how the 20 sides rank based on early-season health and vigourThey say the league table never lies, and…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2017/nov/16/premier-league-real-table-manchester-united-burnley-brighton

Nov 04

Pep Guardiola predicts English charge in Europe but dampens early treble talk

• ‘My feeling is all five teams will make the [Champions League] knockout stage’• Manchester City manager says it is too soon to talk of his side winning treblePep Guardiola believes an English team can win the Champions League this season and does not…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/nov/04/pep-guardiola-english-europe-champions-league-treble-talk

Oct 29

Played 15, lost 0: are English clubs Champions League contenders again? | Paul Wilson

It is early days but managerial stability is powering an upsurge in results which suggests the Premier League sides can threaten Europe’s bestThe Champions League group stage is now at its halfway point, each team having played three matches with three…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2017/oct/29/english-clubs-champions-league-contenders-tottenham-chelsea-liverpool-manchester-city-united

Oct 20

Sean Dyche: ‘I’m not running from Burnley. I’ve never said I want to move’ | Paul Wilson

The seventh-longest-serving manager in England, who admits he will need a little luck at Manchester City on Saturday, discusses being linked with Leicester and why he swears by honesty and simplicityBurnley’s away form against some of the leading Premi…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/oct/20/sean-dyche-burnley-manchester-city-leicester

Oct 18

For now I have full support of the Everton board, says Ronald Koeman

• Everton manager prepares to face Lyon at home in Europa League• Arsenal at home and Chelsea away in League Cup next for troubled DutchmanRonald Koeman believes he still retains the confidence of the Everton board as he tries to turn round a disappoin…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/oct/18/everton-board-support-ronald-koeman-manager-lyon-europa-league

Sep 25

Kyle Walker happy Sergio Agüero is in same side as ‘facing him was nightmare’

• Agüero needs one goal to equal Eric Brook’s Manchester City scoring record
• Argentinian likely to be rejoined by Gabriel Jesus against Shakhtar Donetsk

Sergio Agüero needs one more goal to equal Eric Brook’s 78-year-old Manchester City scoring record and there are not many people at the club who imagine the Argentinian is going to hang around for long on his present tally of 176.

No one is a bigger fan of the striker than Kyle Walker, who says it a joy to be playing behind Agüero after years of struggling to contain him.

Related: Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/sep/25/kyle-walker-happy-sergio-aguero-in-same-side-manchester-city-shakhtar-donetsk

Sep 20

‘Football manager excuses’ are for the supercoaches and the blustergaffers | Paul Wilson

Arguably the most admirable characters in modern football are the managers who embrace the basic unfairness of the sport and offer realism amid the Premier League’s inequalities

It is always appreciated when sport manages to offer colourful additions to the national lexicon – “squeaky bum time”, “I never said them things”, “do I not like that” etc – so it was pleasing to note that in criticising Ryanair’s handling of its self-made fiasco over flight cancellations this week the RBC investment bank accused the company of coming up with “football manager excuses”.

Blaming everyone but themselves, in other words. It is an expression that deserves to stick, because just about every manager has been guilty of it at some point and there have been several noteworthy examples even this early in the present season. The otherwise admirable Marco Silva was aggrieved about a couple of marginal offsides at the weekend when neither would have made a scrap of difference to the outcome of Watford’s match against Manchester City, while Ronald Koeman ludicrously tried to blame José Mourinho for increasing the pressure on Everton after watching his side ship 12 goals without reply in their last four games. For the record, Arsène Wenger was not whingeing when he pondered whether the colour of Alexander Lacazette’s boots might have alerted the referee’s assistant to the fact that his toe was in an offside position before his disallowed goal at Stoke, he was merely passing on the views of a supporter who had pointed out the possibility.

Related: Darren Ferguson: ‘Arsène Wenger is sorting the tickets for my father at Arsenal’

Related: Golazos galore: the 25 best goals from the golden era of Serie A

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/sep/20/football-manager-excuses-supercoaches-blustergaffers-premier-league

Sep 10

Manchester United look best bet as new big five enter Champions League | Paul Wilson

José Mourinho’s side are well placed to challenge the cream of the continent but on recent form it’s hard to justify England’s Champions League prominence

European football returns this week, and though the individual highlight may well be the look of distaste on Alexis Sánchez’s face as he comes to terms with Europa League football on Thursday, before that England’s new big five get the chance to establish their credentials in the Champions League.

Related: Champions League squads: Chelsea’s Costa left out but United include Ibrahimovic

Related: Champions League 2017-18: how will your club do this season?

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2017/sep/10/manchester-united-best-bet-big-five-champions-league

Sep 06

Pointless and desperate: Crystal Palace and West Ham already under pressure | Paul Wilson

The Premier League returns this weekend but it is a fair bet Slaven Bilic and Frank de Boer have not enjoyed the international break too much and both are in dire need of a positive result

As international breaks go, the one England have just enjoyed was quite eventful, even if nothing Gareth Southgate’s players could produce on the pitch was likely to steal the headlines from the way in which Wayne Rooney celebrated a rare weekend off.

How assiduously Rooney can put the past behind him and resume what was shaping up to be a promising return to his former club will be one of the focal points when Premier League football returns at the weekend, as will the behaviour of Dele Alli. A theory is emerging that the Tottenham player has not just taken Rooney’s place in the England team but also appropriated his penchant for needless controversy, and both forwards will be in the spotlight when Spurs visit Goodison on Saturday.

Related: Football transfer rumours: Sánchez to Manchester City for £20m in January?

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2017/sep/06/crystal-palace-west-ham-premier-league-bilic-de-boer-points

Aug 09

Premier League 2017-18 preview No15: Stoke City

Stoke have lost some of their intimidating aura, while the departure of key players leaves Mark Hughes’s side looking thin up front and supporters wondering where the team are going

Guardian writers’ predicted position 16th (NB: this is not necessarily Paul Wilson’s prediction but the average of our writers’ tips)

Last season’s position 13th

Related: Premier League 2017-18 fans’ previews, part 2: Manchester City to West Ham

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/aug/09/premier-league-preview-2017-18-stoke-city

Aug 01

Premier League 2017-18 preview No4: Burnley

Sean Dyche’s side are preparing for a second successive season in the top flight and another attritional season of small gains is in prospect

Guardian writers’ predicted position 18th (NB: this is not necessarily Paul Wilson’s prediction but the average of our writers’ tips)

Last season’s position 16th

Related: Premier League 2017-18 preview No1: Arsenal | Amy Lawrence

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2017/aug/01/premier-league-preview-2017-18-burnley

Jul 19

Where are the young goalscorers available to buy? | Paul Wilson

There has been much talk about strikers this summer but apart from Kylian Mbappé, exciting and emerging names are not exactly flooding the market

According to just about every manager interviewed on the subject, not to mention the accumulated wisdom of more than 100 years of professional football, the hardest task in the game is putting the ball into the back of the net. It often looks deceptively easy, a tap over the line here, a well-timed header there, but at the highest level you are up against organised defences and highly-trained goalkeepers. Opportunities do not normally come along that often in a game, and frequently most of the team will have been involved in some way in creating the space to set up the attack, so that when you finally arrive – as Pep Guardiola is fond of putting it, meaning arrive in front of goal – the pressure on the guy on the end of the move is considerable.

Some find it easy to handle and finish almost instinctively; think Jamie Vardy in Leicester’s title-winning season. Then when it becomes expected it becomes harder to do; think Vardy last term or even Diego Costa drying up for Chelsea. Some players seem to emerge from their teenage years as born goalscorers – think Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen or Wayne Rooney – only to find the necessary fearlessness and decisiveness more difficult to reproduce once they are marked men in their mid-20s. Occasionally strikers manage to improve with age and experience, by looking after themselves and bringing all their knowledge and maturity to bear, as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Jermain Defoe demonstrated last season. A reliable goalscorer at any age is an invaluable asset, which is why Manchester United have happily handed over £75m to Everton to secure Romelu Lukaku’s best years.

Related: Transfer window 2017 – every deal in Europe’s top five leagues

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2017/jul/19/where-are-young-goalscorers-kylian-mbappe