Paul Wilson

Author's posts

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

Jul 17

Will the wait for an English manager to win the Premier League ever end? | Paul Wilson

After 25 Premier League years an English coach is still to lift the title and the supply of qualified foreign coaches suggests the wait may continue awhile

The Premier League has been going for 25 years and it is still no closer to being won by a team with an English manager.

Actually that might not be completely true. Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth finished ninth last season and in the arid landscape of English achievement since Howard Wilkinson took Leeds United to the final old First Division title in 1992 that possibly counts as progress. There have certainly been seasons, 2015-16 being the most recent, when the top 10 positions were the exclusive province of foreign coaches.

Related: Do English managers deserve more chances in the Premier League? | Paul Campbell

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2017/jul/17/will-wait-for-english-manager-to-win-premier-league-end

Jul 08

No sign of austerity in Premier League’s never-ending transfer spree | Paul Wilson

It already looks like another record-breaking summer of spending for English clubs, but the disconnect between footballers and the real world is growing

Liverpool and Everton were first, Arsenal have just joined them, and Huddersfield Town managed it twice in the same week. The transfer window still has the best part of two months to run and the real horse-trading is yet to start, but this looks like it could be the summer when almost every Premier League club sets a transfer record.

Perhaps such a development is a logical and inevitable corollary of the new television deal, the one responsible for making English clubs richer than ever before. Perhaps it is simply a matter of inflation, not just prices going up all the time but the follow-on effects from, say, the benchmark set by Romelu Lukaku changing clubs for around £75m.

Related: Manchester United agree Romelu Lukaku fee with Everton

Related: Chelsea winded by Romelu Lukaku blow and Antonio Conte will demand answers | Dominic Fifield

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2017/jul/08/premier-league-transfer-window-spending-austerity

Apr 22

Pep Guardiola knows Manchester City fortunes must translate to trophies

Coach looks ahead to an FA Cup semi-final against an Arsenal side he admires fully aware that he has not yet offered an upgrade on his predecessors

The FA Cup is not going to rescue the season for Arsenal or Manchester City, Sunday’s semi-finalists at Wembley. Only a top-four finish will give Arsène Wenger ammunition with which to reply to his detractors and while City currently look the more capable of achieving that in this most competitive of seasons, Pep Guardiola is aware it is nowhere near enough.

“I am happy that we have made some progress this season but I cannot expect the owners to feel the same way,” the City manager says with disarming frankness. “The potential of this club is so much higher.”

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/apr/22/pep-guardiola-manchester-city-arsenal-fa-cup-semi-final

Apr 22

How Leroy Sané was helped to settle at Manchester City by Mesut Özil

They might be rivals in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley but the City striker reveals the Arsenal playmaker was crucial to him finding his feet in England

Leroy Sané has been one of Manchester City’s undoubted successes of the season. The former Schalke winger may not have been an instant sensation – it took him a while to adjust to a new country and the physical demands of the Premier League – but from the moment he scored his first goal in England against Arsenal in December he has never looked back. Suddenly, it was possible to see what had impressed Pep Guardiola so much in the Bundesliga. Even the fee of £37m began to look less excessive. During the brief period when Gabriel Jesus was able to link up with Sané in the City attack, the evidence was even more compelling: here was a player for the future, someone you could build a team around.

Related: Arsène Wenger banks on Wembley factor to unite Arsenal masses

Related: Pep Guardiola backs Leroy Sané to provide Manchester City’s cutting edge | Paul Wilson

Related: Leroy Sané sparkles for Manchester City as attacking trident shows menace | Ben Fisher

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/apr/22/leroy-sane-mesut-ozil-pep-guardiola-manchester-city-arsenal-fa-cup-wembley