Football Association Cup Primer

There are a couple of intra-season tournaments played by teams in the English football association, including the Championship League and Europa League for teams that qualify for those specific tournaments. While the Championship League is limited to the top teams from the Premier League, it is technically possible for a lower-tier team to qualify for the Europa League tournament, even though it hasn’t happened for over in the Premier League era of English football.
Two of the qualifying spots in Europa League, at least for English association football, are awarded to the winners of two English-only Cup competitions: the Football Association Cup – also know as the FA Cup – and the English League Cup (ELC).* However, as mentioned previously, a non-tier 1 team hasn’t won either cup since 1991, when Sheffield Wednesday managed to secure the EFL Cup. The last team from outside the top division to win the FA Cup was West Ham United way back in 1980 (though Cardiff City, while a member of the Championship, did lose in the final to Portsmouth in 2008).
*I’ll cover the English League Cup in a subsequent post.

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Watford 2018-2019 Transfer Review

Note: This is the latest breakdown of transfer moves leading up to the 2018-19 Premier League season. This post will be updated throughout the transfer window as appropriate.
Watford is one of those teams I always seem to be on the fence for, I feel like if they can stay healthy (and focused) they could cause a relative upset and finish in the top half. However, on the flip side, I see the potential for them shipping a ton of goals in the wrong direction, with balls sailing right past Foster/Gomes. I do like the moves they’ve brought in to supplement their squad. However, when I wrote in the Premier League Primer about the successes I thought they would have, they still had Richarlison.
For me the biggest concern (and elephant in the room) is what they are planning to do to cope with the loss of Richarlison. They really don’t have anyone they can expect a significant number of goals from, and that concerns me a lot heading into this season. Their top goalscorer was a midfielder with 7, and I just worry that unless they can get a target man to funnel the attack through that it will end a lot like last season (with a few lower places in final position). My write up discussed that as being my biggest concern then, and it’s more so now. Their goals allowed isn’t horrendous, but when you are towards the worst in the league in goals scored, it needs to be exceptional if you’re going to succeed. I still think this team is good enough to avoid relegation, but I am far less optimistic about their chances, I think a lower-mid tier is probably the best they can hope for.

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Where World Cup Award Winners Will Be Playing

Now that World Cup 2018 has been over for some time, with France coming out on top against an upstart Croatia team, you might be wondering where you can find all the stars from the tournament across the various football associations.
You’ve come to the right place!
FIFA doesn’t announce a Best XI from the tournament, which made this a little more difficult to complete. They did, however, give out four individual awards to seven individuals:

  • Golden Ball (best overall player) (gold, silver, and bronze)
  • Golden Ball (top scorer) (gold, silver, bronze)
  • Golden Glove (best goalkeeper)
  • Best Young Player

We’ll cover these seven players first, and most of these players have shown up on the various “best of the tournament” lists that I’ve seen floating around the internet.

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UEFA Europa League Primer

The Champions League is for the best of the best, the top teams from the top leagues all across Europe. The Europa League pulls from a lot of the same population, though it tends to be reserved for teams that are not competing in the Champions League. There are also more opportunities for lower ranked leagues based on the UEFA coefficient, and a better chance for these lower ranked clubs to have representation in the later stages of the tournament.
All that being said, let’s take a closer look at how a team can get into the Europa League.
For the 2018-19 Europa League, there will be a grand total of 213 teams (as of now) participating in the tournament. Depending on where the association league is ranked determines how many spots are awarded to that league, and that in turn determines how the league determines who is selected. Teams are selected based on their performance the previous season, which is why it is sometimes possible to see a Premier League team competing in the Europa League while also falling to the relegation zone, like Wigan Athletic during the 2012-13 season.
The associations ranked between 1-51 (except Liechtenstein) all get at least three spots in the tournament. Associations 52-54 (presently Gibraltar, Andorra, and San Marino) receive (at least) two spots, and Kosovo and the aforementioned Liechtenstein each get at least one. I say “at least” as a qualifier for those numbers because associations can have more teams added to the field as they are eliminated from the Champions League tournament during the same year. For example, there have been 19 teams that have been eliminated from the Champions League tournament thus far, and they have all been placed in the Europa League tournament somewhere.
With me so far?

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AFC Bournemouth 2018-2019 Transfer Review

AFC Bournemouth 2018-2019 Summer Transfer Review

Note: This is the latest breakdown of transfer moves leading up to the 2018-19 Premier League season. This post will be updated throughout the transfer window as appropriate. 

AFC Bournemouth has laid low so far this transfer window, and despite their 1 acquisition (with another due to be announced shortly)  (update: now up to 3) and the 7 leaving, I’m not really concerned. I think the Cherries proved last year they have enough to stay up, and I don’t believe they’ve lost important enough pieces to put that in jeopardy. And, a roughly $12M transfer surplus is likely to make the bosses happy. (update: their latest acquisitions moved them out of the elite club who profited from the transfer window.) I think that Bournemouth assesses their needs and if they identify something urgent, they can address it in the winter transfer window (where almost every transfer is more expensive, based solely on the timing). Although, I don’t imagine they’ll show any holes unless the injury bug comes out in force, or a whole batch of Cherries goes bad (I know — I know, I couldn’t resist) I think they stay solidly mid-table.
If I’m Bournemouth, I think I’m personally looking for possible youth transfer targets that I can secure for a reasonable fee now and use as collateral for later or, possibly, just work on a homegrown starting squad. Generally speaking, this club has shown that they have a good eye for talent and have been able to acquire low and sell high, but when you are in a position where you can’t groom your own talent, having a transfer budget is going to really important.

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UEFA Champions League Primer

One of the reasons it is so important for an English football club to be so competitive in the Premier League is the qualification for the UEFA Champions League. This is a very lucrative continental tournament for all the club teams in European football, and is second to only the World Cup in worldwide viewership among football competitions.
Part of the reason for this is the prize money associated with the various stages of the tournament. The winning team can expect to share in a prize that approaches $100M, which averages out to about $5M per player. That is not pocket change, even for some of the highest paid players in Europe. They also share in money from the “market pool,” which is distributed based on value of the media market in the winning country.
The top four league based on UEFA coefficient – Spain, Germany, England, and Italy – each place four teams in the tournament every year. This is typically determined by the finishing order from the previous year’s league, though there are exceptions that may allow for teams to place more than their allocation based on the league’s performance in other leagues. For example, the winner of the UEFA Europa League, another continental competition for nearly all of the European club teams, is guaranteed a spot in the following year’s Champions League. If that team doesn’t qualify otherwise, like finishing in the top four in their league, they are given a spot, though no country can have more than five teams in the tournament.

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