Bill Edgar: Kane’s curious Three Lions scoring record

The Times’ Bill Edgar offers another shot of stats focusing on Harry Kane’s rollercoaster scoring record for England, the Netherlands’ revival and Manchester City’s chances of ending a strange Premier League jinx

“The Tottenham Hotspur striker caused concern by recording a run of six games without a goal, including all four matches at Euro 2016, only to follow that by becoming the first player since Steve Bloomer in 1896-1900 to score in nine out of ten England appearances.”

Kane’s England rollercoaster

Harry Kane has an outstanding return of 19 goals in 34 England appearances yet already in his short international career he has managed to fit in two scoring droughts.

The Tottenham Hotspur striker caused concern by recording a run of six games without a goal, including all four matches at Euro 2016, only to follow that by becoming the first player since Steve Bloomer in 1896-1900 to score in nine out of ten England appearances.

But since playing the last of those, against Colombia at the World Cup, Kane has failed to find the net in seven matches. He is likely to face Croatia in the Nations League on Sunday but his selection for Thursday’s friendly against the United States is less certain. Kane is 4/9 with Betfair to end his barren run against the USA.

Dutch delight

When Holland failed to qualify for the expanded 24-team Euro 2016 and then the 2018 World Cup – not even reaching the play-offs in either case – it was a reflection of the disappearance of top-class talent from their squad in recent years.

But there have been strong signs of a revival since Ronald Koeman took charge of the team in February this year. After a slightly unfortunate friendly defeat to England, Holland have recorded 3-0 wins over Portugal and Germany, drawn away to Italy and Belgium and pushed France close in a 2-1 defeat in Paris.

The young Ajax trio of Frenkie de Jong and Donny van de Beek, both 21-year-old midfielders, and Matthijs de Ligt, the 19-year-old central defender, are fuelling Dutch optimism, as is the resurgence of Memphis Depay in attack. On Friday Koeman’s team face France in a Nations League meeting in Rotterdam, and they are [3.1] on the Betfair exchange to continue their revival by beating the world champions.

City set to end champions’ jinx

Manchester City are on course to be the first team to win the Premier League in consecutive seasons since Manchester United did so in 2008 and 2009. Four of the past five champions have not even finished in the top four in the following campaign, but City have continued where they left off last season, when they collected 100 points.

Those looking at Betfair Exchange’s Winner without Man City market might be tempted by the [4.7] about Chelsea, who have yet to lose this season.

Source: Betfair Premier League

    

Bill Edgar: Kane’s curious Three Lions scoring record

The Times’ Bill Edgar offers another shot of stats focusing on Harry Kane’s rollercoaster scoring record for England, the Netherlands’ revival and Manchester City’s chances of ending a strange Premier League jinx

“The Tottenham Hotspur striker caused concern by recording a run of six games without a goal, including all four matches at Euro 2016, only to follow that by becoming the first player since Steve Bloomer in 1896-1900 to score in nine out of ten England appearances.”

Kane’s England rollercoaster

Harry Kane has an outstanding return of 19 goals in 34 England appearances yet already in his short international career he has managed to fit in two scoring droughts.

The Tottenham Hotspur striker caused concern by recording a run of six games without a goal, including all four matches at Euro 2016, only to follow that by becoming the first player since Steve Bloomer in 1896-1900 to score in nine out of ten England appearances.

But since playing the last of those, against Colombia at the World Cup, Kane has failed to find the net in seven matches. He is likely to face Croatia in the Nations League on Sunday but his selection for Thursday’s friendly against the United States is less certain. Kane is 4/9 with Betfair to end his barren run against the USA.

Dutch delight

When Holland failed to qualify for the expanded 24-team Euro 2016 and then the 2018 World Cup – not even reaching the play-offs in either case – it was a reflection of the disappearance of top-class talent from their squad in recent years.

But there have been strong signs of a revival since Ronald Koeman took charge of the team in February this year. After a slightly unfortunate friendly defeat to England, Holland have recorded 3-0 wins over Portugal and Germany, drawn away to Italy and Belgium and pushed France close in a 2-1 defeat in Paris.

The young Ajax trio of Frenkie de Jong and Donny van de Beek, both 21-year-old midfielders, and Matthijs de Ligt, the 19-year-old central defender, are fuelling Dutch optimism, as is the resurgence of Memphis Depay in attack. On Friday Koeman’s team face France in a Nations League meeting in Rotterdam, and they are [3.1] on the Betfair exchange to continue their revival by beating the world champions.

City set to end champions’ jinx

Manchester City are on course to be the first team to win the Premier League in consecutive seasons since Manchester United did so in 2008 and 2009. Four of the past five champions have not even finished in the top four in the following campaign, but City have continued where they left off last season, when they collected 100 points.

Those looking at Betfair Exchange’s Winner without Man City market might be tempted by the [4.7] about Chelsea, who have yet to lose this season.

Source: BetFair Tips

    

Claudio Ranieri Appointed: Can Leicester hero keep struggling Fulham up?

Alex Keble takes a look at Claudio Ranieri’s in-tray at Fulham, and asks whether the Italian has the ability to steer the club out of the relegation zone.

“Ranieri’s positive attitude should clear the clouds around Craven Cottage, but unless that quickly translates into wins and points Fulham are doomed.”

Just days after owner Shahid Khan said he was “astonished” at rumours of an imminent managerial change, Fulham have sacked Slavisa Jokanovic and replaced him with former Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri. After considering several candidates for the role, Khan has said the new manager is a “risk-free and ready-made” appointment.

He joins the club with just under two weeks to prepare his side for a match at Craven Cottage against fellow strugglers Southampton, in which even a win for the hosts would not lift them out of the bottom three. This is a huge task for the 67-year-old.

Ranieri’s recent history

It is certainly an eye-catching appointment. Ranieri is a strangely unknowable entity for Fulham fans despite his fairy-tale title triumph in the midlands two-and-a-half years ago. The Italian’s most recent role, as Nice manager for the 2017/18 season, began brilliantly but crumbled after Christmas, the season neatly split into two very different halves. This follows a similarly dramatic rise and fall with the Foxes, which itself was very un-Ranieri like as “The Tinkerman” played the same team, in the same system, throughout that famous league-winning year.

Khan is correct when declaring Fulham have captured “an extraordinary football man” – one who boasts experience with the likes of Chelsea, Juventus, Inter Milan, and Valencia – but that doesn’t mean it is an appointment without risk. Fulham, after all, are in a perilous position that Ranieri has rarely experienced in his long career at the top of the game.

He certainly has a full in-tray at Craven Cottage, and as an ex-Chelsea man Fulham fans won’t necessarily give Ranieri much time to adapt. Then again, with five points from their opening 12 Premier League games, time was never going to be on Ranieri’s side.

Build on the Liverpool performance

Fulham’s dreadful defensive record is obviously the first thing to fix. Jokanovic played in a highly expansive style that created big gaps in midfield and defence, allowing their opponents to simply walk through the middle of the pitch. Fulham have conceded 31 goals so far this season, on course for a Premier League record.

However, there were some very positive signs from the 2-0 defeat at Anfield on Sunday, and had their marginal offside goal not been disallowed it is plausible the Whites would have emerged with three points. Jokanovic had finally tightened up, playing a narrow 4-4-2 that restricted space in the centre and – with a deep defensive line – made Fulham much harder to break down.

It was a dramatic tactical reshuffle from the outgoing manager, and coincidentally it has provided an early template for how Ranieri can infuse Fulham with some of that Leicester magic.

Implement a counter-attacking style

A deep-lying, counter-attacking 4-4-2 is how Ranieri won the title with Leicester – and it’s exactly how Fulham need to play in order to survive the drop; they just aren’t technically gifted enough to play an open possession game. The Southampton match is a good place to start.

In Tom Cairney, Ranieri has the Danny Drinkwater-style midfield engine, while across the back four there is enough brawn to stop the leaks. Denis Odoi and Calum Chambers are decent centre-backs in need of the confidence boost that comes with being surrounded, more closely, by team-mates. Dropping deeper and holding a compressed overall team shape is the obvious way to improve a defensive record, and (not coincidentally) it is exactly what Ranieri would want to do anyway.

More importantly, playing with caution before springing forward on the break suits Fulham’s attacking players. Ryan Sessegnon has struggled to find space on the left flank, but with a Leicester-ish plan will frequently receive the ball with room to gallop into. The same can be said of Luciano Vietto, while Aleksandar Mitrovic is a good target man for teams playing in a direct style.

Find a defensive midfielder

The biggest stumbling block in all this is finding an N’Golo Kante to compliment Cairney (or Drinkwater himself, who will be available to loan in January and is a 9/2 shot to sign for the Cottagers in 2019). It’s possible that Kevin McDonald will improve if Fulham aren’t so expansive, but it’s more likely the club will enter the transfer market to find a new defensive midfielder.

There aren’t any obvious names that spring to mind, but Ranieri has six weeks to search for an athletic footballer who can sew together the gap between defence and midfield. Fulham need a strong tackler capable of calming the nerves of the centre-backs.

Can Fulham survive?

There is certainly talent in the Fulham squad – in the final third at least – and so if Ranieri can quickly get his tactical ideas across then it certainly isn’t too late for Fulham. They are only three points away from 17th, meaning a couple of wins could dramatically change their outlook. Cardiff City and Huddersfield are certainly worse teams, but for the third spot there’s very little in it.

The next few weeks will probably define Fulham’s future; without a new manager bounce, it’s unlikely to come together for a coach whose results tend to drop off very suddenly. Ranieri’s positive attitude should clear the clouds around Craven Cottage, but unless that quickly translates into wins and points Fulham are doomed. However, as they are likely to trade higher than the [1.75] on the Exchange, it’s worth a lay at this point.

Source: Betfair Premier League

    

Dimitar Berbatov Exclusive: Ranieri has a difficult task ahead to save Fulham

Ranieri Celebrations.jpg

Betfair Ambassador Dimitar Berbatov gives his reaction over the sacking of Fulham’s Slaviša Jokanovic and the appointment of much-loved Claudio Ranieri…

Fulham need a “No excuses” manager like Ranieri

I was surprised to see Claudio Ranieri was appointed as Fulham manager this morning because I mentioned in my last column that Slaviša Jokanovic is a good coach. Yes, they’ve had some bad results but I was hoping he’d be given some more time in the Premier League as he was the one who brought them up and it was always going to be difficult at the start after being promoted. But in modern football sometimes they don’t give you that time. I’m surprised because of that.

Ranieri was my coach at Monaco so I know him well, and I think if you appoint someone in this situation, with Fulham are last in the table, you want to appoint someone with great experience who could help them stay up. And he is a great appointment, I wish him luck and I know he’s going to work hard, because that’s what he does. Hopefully they can now improve on their results.

When I was under him at Monaco, there were so many young players there like Martial, Moutinho, Falcao, James Rodriguez, all these talented, footballers with potential and he was working well with them. Ranieri has that experience, he knows how to handle not only young talent but the big names too.

He’s also a champion of England, he has the tools and he knows how to get out of the difficult situations but it’s not going to be easy.

As I said I’m still shocked they sacked the coach let alone hired Ranieri, but I’m glad he has a job managing again; everyone loves him in England especially with what he achieved with Leicester. You need to give coaches with this background, opportunities. Knowing him personally, he’s a hard worker, he never stops and it might come to a surprise to the players when he comes in, but the team need that mentality of “no excuses” at the moment because they’re at the bottom of the table.

Jokanovic suffered a cruel fate

Football is a cruel game somtimes and it’s a bit unfair for Jokanvic to go. Look at Newcastle for example, they didn’t win a game for ten matches in a row and now they’ve won back-to-back games. The losing streak must end some time and you’re going to start winning, but maybe in this case they couldn’t wait any longer because they’re at the bottom of the league and need to start making changes.

What are you going to do? You can’t get rid of all the players, so it’s going to be the coach you change. That’s how football business is. I like Jokanovic a lot, he is a talented coach who got Fulham promoted, I’m sure he’ll get another job sooner or later.

Players should take advantage

Fulham players should be excited to work with Ranieri, he’s a great coach, fluent in five or six languages so there’ll be no issues communicating, and he’s very fair on his judgements; he’s not afraid to drop big names. He has that classic Italian hardworking culture, if you don’t play well that’s it, you’ll be dropped for the next game. So, the team must give everything they have.

As I said, it’s going to be a challenge but it’s not impossible to get them out of the relegation zone. He’ll come with a strategy to keep them up. It helps that he has a good reputation; everybody loved him at Monaco, at Leciester and I’m sure Fulham will be the same but they need to start winning games now.

The market for Leicester winning the Premier League was 5000/1, and now the odds on Fulham staying up are probably as high as that! It’s like the same situation in reverse; the odds are against them, it’s a challenging situation, but there’s a lot of games left to change it. He’s done it with Leicester to win the title and now he can save Fulham from relegation which is probably a more difficult task to achieve.

Fulham deserve to be in the Premier League, they’re a great club with great traditions and I think Ranieri can do it, all they need is one win.

Doing a Leicester

We should think about Fulham staying up before them “doing a Leciester” next year. They play good football and this is what I like about them. I watched them against Liverpool and they don’t just kick the ball to see what happens next, they pass around the ball well. Sometimes this won’t give you results because of the teams you face in the league are of better quality, or you have bad luck like their disallowed goal against Liverpool. However, the results will come if you stick to your philosophy.

I’m curious to see them play under Ranieri. Every manager brings their own style of play, especially with their next game at home at Southampton, it’s a good opportunity to start up against them because the Saints aren’t doing too well either.

With the new manager affect, things can change quickly and while it won’t be a disaster if they lose to Southampton it will continue the losing streak. A win would be great, even a draw would be a step in the right direction but what’s in important is that Ranieri comes in, shakes things up and players wake up a bit. It’s a new beginning for the team, that’s what the players say to each other.

The uncertainty with a new manager

When you change manager, the team will have a question mark over their heads. Maybe the players who start all the time might be dropped, maybe other footballers will be given a chance to get more minutes and you need to work with all the players who will be feeling they have something to prove. Remember, Ranieri isn’t someone to go “Oh you’re a big name, you’re going to play all the time.” No. This isn’t how he operates. He’ll go with the teammates who work the hardest.

We’re all human and some of the players will have doubts but that should drive them in the direction of proving themselves at the club and shake them up a bit! There’s always a chance the manager will want to bring someone new into the team too.

If Fulham are still at the bottom of the table when the January transfer window opens it’ll be harder to convince new transfers to join your team because they’ll be put off by the chance of relegation. I can only see them getting loan deals in that situation, then if they stay up they have the possibility of keeping that player. If they climb up the table, they have more of a chance to bring better quality players to help them.

Obviously, it depends on money. The club needs to say, “This is your budget, go find someone to help us.” These are two different scenarios that could happen and I’ll be interested to see what is next for Fulham.

Source: Betfair Premier League