Premier League 2020/21: May

Premier League 2020/21: May

And so, we have reached the end of the season. A season like no other, which saw empty grounds around the country for all but a few weeks of the season. A season that saw fans and players united against the greed of the “Big Six” owners. A season that Manchester City go from looking completely out of the title hunt to winning it by a country mile. A season that saw Arsenal’s 25-year streak of European qualification come to an end, despite the creation of a 3ʳᵈ European competition opening up an extra spot. A season that saw the return of Leeds United to the top flight in stunning fashion.

Congratulations to Manchester City for their 5ᵗʰ Premier League title in 10 years. They will be joined in the Champions League next season by Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea, while Leicester must suffer the disappointment of just missing out on the top competition for the second year running and must settle for a place in the Europa League alongside West Ham, while Spurs must settle for a place in the new Europa Conference League.

At the other end of the table, Sheffield United bid farewell to the top flight as they finished bottom of the table, while West Brom and Fulham make an immediate return to the Championship. They will be replaced by Norwich and Watford, who are both making immediate returns after relegation last season, and they will be joined by the winner of Saturday’s playoff final between Brentford (who have the chance of making it into the top flight for the first time since the 1940s) and Swansea.

And your winners!

football manchester city premier league champions

Golden Boot: Harry Kane (Tottenham) – 23 goals

Playmaker of the Season: Harry Kane (Tottenham) – 14 assists

Golden Glove: Ederson (Manchester City) – 19 clean sheets

A perfect end?

We’ve known for a few months now that legendary Manchester City forward Sergio Agüero would be leaving at the end of the season, but who could have predicted how things would pan out in his final Premier League game. The Argentine came off the bench with 25 minutes remaining and took just 6 minutes to find the back of the net after Fernandinho won the ball back deep in the Everton half. But that wasn’t enough to make this special day perfect, and just 5 minutes later, he scored again, securing a 4-0 victory in front of a returning home crowd, but in the process, setting a new record of 184 Premier League goals scored for 1 club, beating Wayne Rooney’s Manchester United tally of 183.

Having scored that famous goal in the final minute of injury time against QPR to win the Premier League over Manchester United in his first season at the Etihad, he was always going to go down in Manchester City history, but over the years he has become such a key part in the rise of Manchester City to a global superpower, while he leaves the Premier League with the best minutes per goal figure (108) of any player with a minimum 50 Premier League goals.

In terms of bowing out of the Premier League, it was a almost perfect ending. But can things still get better? The one thing that has eluded Agüero and City this last 10 years is winning the Champions League. On Saturday, they face Chelsea in the Champions League final. Whether he starts or not, how fitting would it be to see Agüero score the winning goal in the final, securing his and the club’s first Champions League title before riding off into the sunset? As a United fan, any City success hurts, but it would be hard to deny such a legendary player such a perfect ending.

A crucial moment

Agüero isn’t the only person calling time on their Premier League career this month, and the most notable is probably Roy Hodgson, who announced a few weeks back that he would be stepping down as manager of Crystal Palace at the end of the season. The oldest person to have managed in the Premier League, Hodgson did not officially retire, but has said that he is stepping back from football for a time. He has had a long and varied career, having managed 16 different teams in 8 countries, with notable achievements including:

  • Guiding Switzerland (who had not qualified for a major tournament since the 1960s) to the last 16 of the 1994 World Cup and qualification for Euro 1996
  • Guiding Finland to their highest-ever FIFA ranking of 33ʳᵈ place
  • Fulham’s Europa League campaign that began in the third qualifying round and went all the way to the final—their first major European final—where they went to extra time and were minutes away from taking Atlético Madrid to penalties

Of course, as well as the good, there has been the bad, with a move to Liverpool not working out and resulting in him leaving after just 6 months, while his time as England manager is not looked back at fondly—despite a strong start which saw them become defensively solid and rise to 3ʳᵈ in the FIFA World Rankings—as the team struggled to hit the highs that their personnel suggested they should, with dull performances, finishing bottom of their group with 2 losses and a draw at the 2014 World Cup, and dropping to 20ᵗʰ in the FIFA World Rankings.

Looking back, it is clear that Hodgson was at his best with smaller teams, who he could train into solid organised units that were hard to break down defensively, allowing them to pick up points against stronger teams by frustrating them and holding on for draws or catching them on the break or at a set piece for unlikely victories. And this has all been on show when you look at Palace’s place in the league tables. Though their position has fluctuate, they have always been in a secure position with a considerable points advantage over those relegated.

And now, with Hodgson stepping down, Crystal Palace find themselves in a crucial position. First of all, the wrong manager could easily turn things around in a heartbeat. While they have anew young star in Eberechi Eze, its just a matter of time before more attractive clubs come after him and their star of the last 10 years Wilfried Zaha, while the squad is full of players who are getting on in age, and it will be hard to replace their consistency and experience, made even worse by the sheer number of influential players who are out of contract this summer, including Christian Benteke, who has had something of a revival this season. This is a key moment for Crystal Palace, which could define their next couple of seasons. Don’t take your eyes off the situation as it unfolds.

On the move

It’s never an easy situation when you get relegated to the Championship. The Championship is full of teams desperate to jump up to the next level so there’s no easy match, just like in the Premier League. But it can often be harder than that as you lose some of your top players, who impressed enough in losing efforts to stand out and attract the attention of other teams in the Premier League and other top flight leagues. So who could be on the move this summer?

Well first of all, half the Fulham squad this season were loanees, including Alphonse Areola (Paris Saint-Germain), Joachim Andersen (Lyon), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea) and Ademola Lookman (RB Leipzig). While they may not be required by their parent club, it is hard to imagine that they will be loaned out to the Championship, and it is more likely that these players are allowed to sign for (or be loaned to) other Premier League clubs or other top flight leagues. A defender with a year of Premier League experience will be very attractive for mid-to-lower-table clubs looking to shore up their defence, and while Loftus-Cheek and Lookman had ups and downs this campaign, they certainly feel like the kind of players that teams will be looking to bring in to help secure Premier League safety.

As for Sheffield United, I can’t help feel that there were no true standouts in what was truly an awful season, but someone like John Egan could again look attractive for a team who wants to bring in a defender with top flight experience.

Meanwhile at West Brom, vice-captain Kyle Bartley could be another potential pick-up in the same vein as Egan and Andersen, but the true shining star was Matheus Pereira, who had a strong season, scoring 11 goals in 33 league games. As if that scoring record (ore than double that of his closest teammate, and almost a third of the club’s league goals this season) wasn’t enough, he was also top within the team for assists (6), with his dead balls a nightmare to defend. I will be shocked if the Brazilian remains at the club next season as he would be a great addition for any team expected to be fighting in the middle of the table or below, and I can’t help feel that a team like Aston Villa could come calling as Jack Grealish’s injury highlighted their lack of creative options.

Team of the Month


It’s not been a great season for Liverpool, with the loss of Virgil van Dijk just the tip of the iceberg as they suffered an injury crisis especially at the back, going through millions of different centreback combinations. And yet a strong end to the season saw them creep into the top 3, only 5 points behind Manchester United.

The team went perfect in May with a 100% winning record, winning 2-0 against Southampton before a 2-4 victory at Old Trafford, a last-gasp 1-2 victory at West Brom, a 0-3 win at Burnley and a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace to secure a Champions League spot at the end of the season.

The strikers got scoring again and the defence got settled, and once again Liverpool looked like a top Premier League team. Expect them to be back in the title hunt next season.

feat football prem league logo green

Summer Switch: Who should England pick for the Summer Tests?

Summer Switch: Who should England pick for the Summer Tests?

While the attention of many Home Nations fans will be focused on the British & Irish Lions Tour to South Africa this summer, it should not be forgotten that the Home Nations are also still playing Tests of their own.

With a large number of players set to tour with the Lions, England clearly expected to be missing some key players, so will spend this summer facing the USA and Canada, while the England A (no longer called the Saxons) will also play a match against Scotland A.

Now no offense to the lads from across the pond, but I think that if England picked their ideal available squad, it would probably be a pretty easy summer for the men in white, so I feel that—after a Six Nations that saw Eddie Jones’ tried and tested failed miserably—this is a chance to also give some regulars a summer off to recover, while giving a shot to form players who continually miss out on the squad.

So, with that in mind, I’m going to talk through the squad that I would be selecting this summer.


With both Luke Cowan-Dickie and Jamie George on the plane to South Africa, we’re guaranteed to see some different faces here. This would have been the perfect chance for Harry Thacker to have shown his quality at international level, but unfortunately he has been out since having neck surgery in October and is still not back playing. This chance probably comes a little early for Alfie Barbeary, who has also had some injury issues of late, so I can see him featuring for England A if available while Jack Singleton and Tom Dunn get the spots in the squad.


With Mako Vunipola the only England prop in the initial Lions squad, England have plenty of options here. After missing out on a Lions spot, Kyle Sinckler will be desperate to prove himself in a Test match and will likely be the first-choice injury replacement for the Lions at tighthead, so I keep him in the squad to keep him match-ready. This will also be a perfect opportunity for Ellis Genge to show his quality against slightly weaker set pieces, while hopefully also showing a bit more carrying ability in what should be some fine open games of rugby. Behind them, Will Stuart is the obvious second choice at tight head, who probably gets the starts here to show his quality, while his Bath teammate Beno Obano provides a solid back-up option behind Genge. With 1 spot remaining, the final selection goes to Tom West, who has been around the England squad after a strong season for Wasps.


This is an area where England’s depth will be tested, with Maro Itoje and Courtney Lawes in the Lions squad, George Kruis ruled out by his move to Japan and Joe Lunchbury missing through injury. As such, Charlie Ewels is probably the next man up, providing a solid and reliable option with a fair degree of experience. Despite having spent the last season in the Championship, this could be a chance for Joel Kpoku—who will surely be a regular post-RWC2023—to show what he can do, while Nick Isiekwe could make his long-awaited return to the national team. The final spot would then go to Wasps-bound Elliott Stooke, who has found himself in and around the England squad in recent years.

Back Row

This would have been an ideal opportunity for Zach Mercer and Sam Simmonds to show their quality, but Mercer will be out of contention following his move to Montpellier and Simmonds has deservedly found himself on the plane to South Africa. We all know what Billy Vunipola can do, but England’s struggle has often been in his absence, so I would give him a summer off and use these 2 matches as a chance to look at other options. To me, the answer is obvious, with a thunderous ball carrier, who can also hurt you if given too much clear air: Alex DombrandtBen Earl has found himself as somewhat of a regular on the bench recently and this should be his chance to start, with Mark Wilson or Sam Underhill taking the final starting spot to provide some experience. Filling out the back row spots would be Ted Hill and Lewis Ludlam.

Scrum Half

As if the potential of that back row wasn’t enough for you, here’s where things get fun. Ben Youngs ruled him out of selection for the Lions and I see him being given the summer off, while Willi Heinz has missed much of the season through injury. Harry Randall finds himself missing out by the decision to only pick 2 scrum halves for the 2 Tests, but as a result would likely start for England A, while Danny Care unfortunately misses out as the team looks to the future with the 1-2 punch that I have been arguing that England should have used for the last couple of years: Ben Spencer and Dan Robson.

Fly Half

Due to some of the selections elsewhere in the backs, I see England only going for 2 specialist fly halves in this squad. With Owen Farrell out of the picture, I also have George Ford being given the summer off, while the reins of the team are given to Joe Simmonds and Marcus Smith. This then allows for a look at other youngsters in the England A squad, with Jacob Umaga the likely starter and Gloucester’s George Barton backing him up.


Owen Farrell could have appeared here to give some extra playmaking support to the young 10s, but he going to be on Lions duty, while Manu Tuilagi is given the summer off to get fully ready for next season and both Henry Slade and Jonathan Joseph are given a break to test the depth at the position. And what incredible depth there is. Ollie Lawrence will be an obvious pick at 12 as he looks to prove himself at this level, while Joe Marchant and Paolo Odogwu can fight it out for the 13 shirt. Finally, it was hard not to reward Mark Atkinson for his efforts over recent years with Gloucester, but I instead see Piers O’Conor taking the spot due to his versatility.

Back 3

With both Anthony Watson and Elliot Daly on the Lions Tour, the fullback position seems to be open for Max Malins, who would also be an emergency option at fly half should the worst happen. While he did not have the best of times when previously called up, George Furbank has earned another chance in the squad. With very few caps in the backs, Jonny May retains his place to provide some experience, while Joe Cokanasiga also looks to rekindle his international career. The final spot is taken by May’s Gloucester teammate Ollie Thorley, who has found himself on the fringe of the England squad of late.

How do you think this squad would perform against the USA and Canada? Who would you select if you had the chance?

Thanks for reading! Until next time!

D2: The Mighty Ducks

D2: The Mighty Ducks

Welcome to Sport on the Silver Screen. In this series, I will be looking back over sports movies that I have recently watched/re-watched and giving my thoughts on them. Getting into the Schmoedown and starting to follow a number of the personalities from the show has given me a much greater appreciation of movies and seen me starting to watch more.

Being a fan of both movies and sports, I have taken the chance to start highlighting the sheer volume of sports movies out there. For each movie I will be giving some details about the movie and then a quick review, including a section giving a sports fan’s perspective of the action’s realism.

This series has been heavily influenced by Ben Bateman and Andrew Ghai of Action Industries, and as such I will be borrowing a couple of sections that they used in their old show Action Movie Anatomy: Fist-pump moment and favourite line. Be aware, there will be spoilers, but I will try to keep them to a minimum.

Today I will be continuing my trip down memory lane by looking at one of my favourite movies as a child and the sequel to last week’s movie: D2: The Mighty Ducks

Key facts

Directed by Sam Weisman

Music by J. A. C. Redford

Released in 1994

Starring: Emilio Estevez, Kathryn Erbe, Michael Tucker, Jan Rubeš, Carsten Norgaard, Joshua Jackson

Synopsis: After injury robs Gordon Bombay the chance of making it into the NHL, he is appointed the new head coach of Team USA Hockey for the upcoming Junior Goodwill Games. Coaching a team made up of many of the previous Ducks and some of the best players from across the country, the group grow as a team and individuals while Bombay is forced to adapt to newfound fame and expectations.


I absolutely loved this movie as a child and I’m actually quite surprised that I never wore the VHS out! I’m such a fan that I ended up buying a replica of the white Ducks jersey from the climax of the film (#96 Conway, for anyone asking) So to find out that this only had a 59% Audience Score on Rotten Tomatoes was a massive shock to me. But hey, we all have different tastes and I loved it as much as ever!

Much like in the original movie, the person growing the most is surprisingly not the kids, but Gordon Bombay, who suddenly finds himself thrust into a world of sponsors who love him when he wins but turn their back as soon as he loses, while he also finds himself suddenly among the cream of the crop in LA and spending to much time at sponsor events rather than prepping the team, leading to a damning loss against Iceland which he reacts badly to. Though the character of Hans doesn’t appear in this movie, his “brother” Jan fills the exact same role, helping Gordon to see the mistakes he has made and sort himself out in time to earn the team’s trust back and get the win in the big game playing fun hockey. This is hinted at almost immediately, with the opening sequence flashing between Gordan as a child skating on the pond behind his house and Bombay playing in the minors and being on route to the NHL until he receives a career-ending injury. In this opening, we hear Gordon’s father tell him “No matter how far you go, don’t forget your home” and when you combine the orange colour palette for this moment with the colour palette later in the movie as Bombay goes skating at sunset in LA to get his head back after reaching his low point, it’s clear that this is Bombay learning his lesson.

Of course, the Ducks still play a key role, but it is an interesting situation. While Charlie still feels like the heart of the team, he is given much less weighting in this one—his role as the heart of the team really being shown by being the one to round up the Ducks and to drop out in order to open up a roster spot for Banks in the final—as we are introduced to a number of new characters, who have to be given time to bed in and grow themselves. While some of these characters are effectively replacements for Ducks who didn’t return—Ken Wu taking over from Tammy Duncan as the figure skater in the team—many provide a new dynamic, like Dean Portman bringing in another physical, confrontational edge to pair with Fulton Reed, while Russ Tyler’s knucklepuck is a fun variation on Fulton’s slapshot from the first film. What this does mean though is that some characters don’t get as much time as they properly deserve, with Guy Germaine especially falling foul in this movie.

One player who does really benefit though is that of Adam Banks, the best player on the team, who seems to take on a bit of the role Charlie had in the first movie, as a surrogate son for Bombay, and he and Emilio Estevez share a wonderful scene that I had to mention, as Bombay is forced to bench banks due to injury, and does a great job of talking to him and realising that being benched will not be the end of the world and realising what is important.

What probably doesn’t help the situation of giving all the team enough time is a couple of moments that feel really out of place, with Bombay going on a date with the Iceland team’s trainer after one very quick meeting that was nothing more than an introduction, only for them to not have any more interactions together in the movie and for her to be firmly sided with Iceland for the rest of the movie, while following this we get a few hints of a budding romance between Bombay and team tutor Michelle McKay. Neither of these relationships has any payoff—besides the date with Maria helping fuel the team’s distrust in him—and I can’t help feel that these moments could have been removed in favour of more time with some of the Ducks.

Finally, I need to spend some time talking about the main antagonist of this movie, and Carsten Norgaard is great as Wolf “The Dentist” Stansson, the head coach of Iceland. He looks physically intimidating but what really stood out for me on re-watch was that—barring an anger issue which results in a cheap shot on Bombay—he doesn’t actually come across as that bad a person, especially when you consider Coach Reilly told his team to injure Banks in the last movie. Instead, Stansson is tactically solid; we see him and Maria watching a number of USA’s matches, with the movie often showing them watching USA’s weapons (Fulton’s slapshot, Russ’ knucklepuck and the Flying V), all of which Iceland stop in games. Yes the Iceland team play rough, but it is only Olaf Sanderson who really takes things too far on the ice. And then at the end, Stansson actually realises (after a cutting remark from Gunner Stahl) that the win wasn’t everything and is able to shake Bombay’s hand and congratulate him on the win. If we’re looking at characters who could pop up in The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers down the line, I think that Stansson could be a good one to come in as an acquaintance of Bombay, similar to how Rocky and Apollo Creed became friends.

Sports perspective

Like my review for the original, I’m not going to be able to go into much detail at all as Ice Hockey is not a sport that I’ve ever really been able to invest any significant time in. However the movie does a good job of not needing you to have a detailed knowledge of the rules, so that as long as you can understand the basics that each team is trying to put the puck in their opponent’s net more often than the other, you’re completely fine.

Once again, many of the goals we see the Ducks score would ever be seen in an actual game, as the Ducks often rely on gimmicks – like making Russ Tyler and Goldberg swap kits to hide Tyler from the Iceland players and give him time to get the shot off. Even more so than in The Mighty Ducks, we see the tropes of the main rival being a bigger and more physical team that plays in black, who are allowed to get away with a lot more than USA are – most notable when you look at Sanderson getting 2 minutes in the box for deliberately attacking Banks while Portman is ejected just seconds into a game for pushing a player over.

Useless trivia

The Goodwill Games was an alternative to the Olympics, also running every 4 years. There were 5 Summer Goodwill Games (Moscow 1986-Brisbane 2001) and 1 Winter Games (Lake Placid, 2000). Other planned Games were Phoenix (Summer) and Calgary (Winter), which were both cancelled before they could take place in 2005.

Ice hockey was part of the Summer Games.

Fist-pump moment

“They’ve got on new uniforms. They’re wearing the logo of the Duck!”

My fist-pump moment for this one has to be the moment that Team USA come out for the second half of the final wearing new uniforms, the new white kit with the Ducks logo. This is by far my favourite of the kits the team wars during the trilogy, but more than that, it is the moment where the new members officially become Ducks, with a very corporate Team USA jersey until then. Right before this, during the “Ducks Fly Together” scene, we have had the familiar ducks theme playing, but with this reveal, the music comes back stronger, and as the team skate back out onto the ice, you can not just the players but the crowd also spurred on by the change. And trust me, when you have the crowd behind you, you feel invincible.

Favourite line

This movie, there was a line I already remembered before my re-watch and it still stood out this time around:

“Gordon, when I told the Goodwill Committee who you were, I did not talk to them about your good looks. I didn’t tell them you would win at any cost. I told them you were a man who loves the game. And I told them you were a man who could teach the kids about more than just winning or losing. I told them you were the Minnesota Miracle Man and only you could teach them to fly. So be that man. Be that man, Gordon”

It comes at a key moment as Jan helps Gordon realise the mistakes that he has made and reminds him that helping the kids grow is the most important thing rather than coming away with the victory.

What did you think of this movie? Let me know in the comments. Until next time!

Premier League 2020/21: April

Premier League 2020/21: April

So April was a quiet month for the Premier League, eh?

Ha! If only.

While the league came under attack from the supposed Big 6’s attempts to get more money for their owners – an event which backfired tremendously for everyone involved – the league season continued with some more thrilling matches. Manchester City may have lost to Leeds during the month, but with rivals Manchester United also dropping points to the same opposition at the end of the month, the Sky Blues find the league title within reach, with them likely to claim the title in their next match at time of writing. At the other end of the table, Sheffield United were officially confirmed as the first team to be relegated from the league, on the same day that Norwich were confirmed as the first team to secure promotion to the Premier League.

The race is on!

The race for the Golden Boot: Harry Kane (Tottenham) – 21 goals; Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – 20 goals; Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United) – 16 goals

The race for Playmaker of the Season: Harry Kane (Tottenham) – 13 assists; Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) & Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United) – 11 assists; Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) – 10 assists

The race for the Golden Glove: Ederson (Manchester City) – 17 clean sheets; Édouard Mendy (Chelsea) – 15 clean sheets; Emiliano Martínez (Aston Villa)– 14 clean sheets

A step too far

On 18ᵗʰ April, the Premier League came under attack as the “Big 6” (Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur) announced that they were part of a group of 12 clubs (along with AC Milan, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid) who had agreed to form a new breakaway midweek league, the European Super League, rather than continue with the planned UEFA competitions that are in place. It was very clear that this was a move to make the rich clubs richer while the poor clubs were left out.

The timing couldn’t have been worse. Not only did it come completely out of the blue, with players and managers as shocked as fans and equally against the decision, but it came on the same day that Arsenal were held to a 1-1 draw by a Fulham side who will potentially be playing in the Championship next season. In fact, if we looked at the matches on that day or 2 days either side, there were 7 matches between a member of the Big 6 and one of the lowly teams not welcome with the big boys, resulting in just 3 wins for the Big 6 and 4 draws. Of course, within days all the teams had pulled out and were forced to make grovelling apologies.

The Premier League is the best league in the world, not because of its officiating (clearly), but because each team has a legitimate chance to beat any of the other 19 on their day, whereas the Bundesliga has been won by Bayern Munich for the last 8 (soon to be 9) seasons and La Liga has had the same top 3 (in varied order) for the last 9 seasons. The fact that managers and players unequivocally came out against the ESL shows just how loved the Premier League is.

The only people who seem to have been on board with the decision were the fat cats owning each club. And this is no surprise. As football has become more and more of a business, we have seen more clubs just become the shadow of their former selves as they just become a way of adding another 0 to the owner’s personal wealth. Hopefully, this show of solidarity from fans and club personnel alike will be a sign to the fat cats that they can’t have their own way, and hopefully lead us to a time when clubs are owned by those who care…

Special appointment

One giant story that went almost under the radar due to the ESL announcement was the removal of José Mourinho from his role as Spurs manager. The sacking came 2 days after Spurs came from behind to draw at Everton, but less than a week before they would face Manchester city in the Carabao Cup final. Former player Ryan Mason – who was forced to retire early due to a serious head injury – was moved from his role with the Academy into the interim head coach role until the end of the season, becoming the youngest manager in Premier League history, at 29 years old.

But beyond that, who will get the job? Mason is a Spurs man through and through, but it doesn’t sound like he is in contention due to this lack of experience, though it would be interesting to see if this would change if he has a super successful end to the season.

Rafa Benitez would be an ideal choice and is currently available, but I can’t see him moving to Spurs given how reluctant Daniel Levy is to get the chequebook out. Rafa was asked to work miracles with no financial support at Newcastle, and I can’t see him wanting to go into a situation where he is expected to compete against United, City, Liverpool and Chelsea on the pitch but not in the transfer market.

The odds on Antonio Conte taking over have dropped significantly over the last week, and he would be an attractive option, with Premier League experience and experience of teams with high expectations. But would Conte consider a move from perennial title chasers Inter Milan to a Spurs team who are probably pushing for top 3 at best an attractive move?

Eddie Howe is a young English manager who won plenty of plaudits during his time at Bournemouth, playing attractive attacking football. However deficiencies in defence eventually cost him and he has been without a club since, which does raise some flags. He remains the favourite to take over at Celtic, and a couple of strong seasons there could put him in good standing next time around, but not right now.

Sticking with young English managers and Scott Parker may be facing relegation with Fulham, but the team s unrecognisable now to the mess they were at the start of the season. He is a smart manager with expectations of his players, but again probably needs some more experience before a move to a big club.

Ralph Hasenhüttl has impressed on the whole at Southampton and it seems a matter of time before he gets a more prestigious appointment, but for a manager with only 2 appointments of note (Southampton and RB Leipzig) who has never managed a winning percentage of 50% or above, a move to a team like Spurs may be to big of a jump.

Brendan Rodgers and Nuno Espírito Santo are probably the most attractive managers in the Premier League right now, but this season has maybe shown a reliance on a couple of star players, with Wolves struggling following he sale of Diogo Jota and injuries to Raúl Jiménez and Pedro Neto, while Leicester have also struggled with key players missing.

Let down

And finally to a subject that seems to come up far too often: player safety surrounding head injuries. This time we journey back to the start of the month, as Leeds hosted Sheffield United. Sheffield right back George Baldock suffered a head injury and even from the television footage, it was clear that he appeared to be suffering concussion symptoms. Yet after the quickest of trials at the side of the pitch, Baldock was allowed to play on, only to go down again moments later and finally be removed from the match.

I may not be a medical expert but it was clear to me that Baldock was in no fit state to continue after the original incident. By being allowed to play on, Baldock was put at serious risk. So much work is being done in sports like rugby and the NFL to combat head injuries and protect players, yet football—a sport in which you can legally use your head to play the ball—once again seems far behind.

These players may be getting paid substantial sums to play in the Premier League, but their safety and wellbeing is being put at risk, and I worry that if something doesn’t change soon, it will take a serious and life-changing incident for the league begin caring about concussions and head injuries.

Team of the Month

Manchester United

This was very much a two horse race this month, with only Manchester United and West Ham managing 3 wins in the league this month. While West Ham’s 3 wins were probably against a stronger set of opponents, United’s win at Spurs highlighted their turnaround from the mauling they received earlier this season, and they also finished the month with a slightly higher number of points due to a draw at Leeds versus a loss at Newcastle, while they also had to do this around their Europa League campaign, which saw both legs of the quarterfinal against Granada and the 6-2 victory in the first leg of the semifinal against Roma.

feat football prem league logo pink

The Mighty Ducks

The Mighty Ducks

Welcome to Sport on the Silver Screen. In this series, I will be looking back over sports movies that I have recently watched/re-watched and giving my thoughts on them. Getting into the Schmoedown and starting to follow a number of the personalities from the show has given me a much greater appreciation of movies and seen me starting to watch more.

Being a fan of both movies and sports, I have taken the chance to start highlighting the sheer volume of sports movies out there. For each movie I will be giving some details about the movie and then a quick review, including a section giving a sports fan’s perspective of the action’s realism.

This series has been heavily influenced by Ben Bateman and Andrew Ghai of Action Industries, and as such I will be borrowing a couple of sections that they used in their old show Action Movie Anatomy: Fist-pump moment and favourite line. Be aware, there will be spoilers, but I will try to keep them to a minimum.

Today I will be starting a trip down memory lane by looking at the first film in one of my favourite movie series as a child: The Mighty Ducks

ss The Mighty Ducks

Key facts

Directed by Stephen Herek

Music by David Newman

Released in 1992

Starring: Emilio Estevez, Joss Ackland, Lane Smith, Heidi Kling, Joshua Jackson

Synopsis: Hotshot Minneapolis lawyer Gordon Bombay (Estevez) is arrested for drink diving and forced to undertake 500 hours of community service coaching the struggling local “District 5” Pee Wee ice hockey team. Though there is initially no love lost between him and the team, they slowly remind him of the love he once had for the game and he looks to turn around their fortunes on the ice.


As much as I loved this trilogy of movies, I can’t remember having watched the original that many times, as for some reason I only had the sequels on VHS (ageing myself here!) as a kid. So it was really fun watching this one again as, though I remember the brad strokes, I don’t remember the detail anywhere near as well.

As a kid, these were just fun sports movies, but watching this now as an adult – and someone who played at my local rugby club as a kid and later in life went back to help coach there – there is actually a really poignant story here, and I would go as far as to suggest any adult who wants to coach children’s sport should watch this movie. Bombay starts the movie as a lawyer who is not afraid to play dirty to ensure that he wins his cases, and that is the same mentality that he initially brings to the team. It is clear that as a child he loved the game, but a bad moment in a match and the reaction of his “winning is everything” coach made him fall out of love with the game.  But as time goes on, we see Bombay getting that love of the game back and helping the kids improve so that they start winning, but also ensuring that the focus is on them enjoying playing the game rather than having to win. It’s a hard balance for a coach to manage, and watching this should be a good reminder for coaches watching to ensure that all the team is having fun, and that the stars of the team are treated just the same as the weakest of players.

Estevez does a great job as Gordon Bombay, showing that change in mentality over time and going from an arrogant jerk at the beginning of the movie to an inspirational coach by the end, but the real standout to me was Joshua Jackson as Charlie Conway, who is far from the best player on the team, but is the heart and soul of the movie, someone who is there because he loves the game – refusing to cheat when Bombay tells him to and being the first to welcome Banks to the team – and while his mother does have a romantic storyline with Bombay, it feels more like the true romance is Gordon falling back in love with the game as Charlie reminds him of what he was like at that age. The rest of the kids do a great job – finding child actors is always a risk but they do well on the whole – but Lane Smith also does a great job as the main antagonist of the movie, Coach Reilly, who was Bombay’s old coach and still coach of the rival team the Hawks.

One final thing to mention in this section is the score, and this really stands out to me in the matches, but especially the matches against the rival team, where we get some extended action. There are 2 obvious themes, one for the Ducks and one for their rivals, and they are meshed together throughout the games does such a great job of adding feeling tot he action, especially with how the theme for the rivals – who are generally bigger and stronger – feels ore overbearing than that of the Ducks.

Sports perspective

So I’m not going to be able to go into much detail at all as Ice Hockey is not a sport that I’ve ever really been able to invest any significant time in. However the movie does a good job of not going into detail about the rules, so that as long as you can understand the basics that each team is trying to put the puck in their opponent’s net more often than the other, you’re completely fine.

Of course, I highly doubt that many of the goals we see the Ducks score would ever be seen in an actual game, as the Ducks often rely on gimmicks – like using a figure skater spinning next to the goal to create space to receive the puck and score. I did appreciate though the “Statue of Liberty” play using Fulton Reed’s powerful slapshot as a dummy for a team play, much as the play in American football sees the quarterback faking a pass to disguise the running back rushing with the ball.

While the Ducks rely on these fun gimmicks, we also see the Hawks allowed to get away with a lot that would probably be penalised in the game and the Ducks getting penalised for much less, and this just helps to set up even more how incredible and against the odds their victory will be.

Useless trivia

Ever heard of the NHL team the Anaheim Ducks? Well they were founded in 1993 by the Walt Disney Company, going under the name The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, which was inspired by this movie. The name was changed to the Anaheim Ducks following Disney’s sale of the franchise, however they still pay homage to their founding on occasions with their kits and the appearance of their mascot.

Fist-pump moment

My fist-pump moment comes halfway though the championship game against the Hawks, immediately following Adam Banks being stretchered off the ice after one of the players did as Coach Reilly had instructed and took him out of the game. After checking on Banks, Bombay takes a detour back to his team via the Hawks, where he looks his old coach in the eye and states:

“To think I wasted all those years worrying about what you thought. You’re going down, Reilly”

The music has remained soft through this moment as it mourns Banks’ being forced out of the game, but on this proclamation it builds up. This is Bombay’s big moment. Throughout the film we have seen him affected by his tie as a Hawk under Reilly, which made him fall out of love with the game. We have seen him try to copy the Hawks early on, then play dirty by having the team cheat to try winning at all costs, but as the movie has gone on, the Ducks brought his love of the game back, leading to him getting fired for making sure Banks couldn’t play for the Hawks for fair play reasons and he even found that the new District lines would make him a Duck rather than a Hawk.

But it is in this moment that he finally sees just how far Reilly will go to win that he is finally able to fully break away from his Hawks past and be his own man, the man the Ducks need him to be.

Favourite line

Having spent so much of my life in teams, both as a player and a coach of junior rugby, and also with the Pistol Shrimps, there was a line from Bombay that rally stood out to me:

“A team isn’t a bunch of kids out to win. A team is something you belong to, something you feel, something you have to earn.”

This really stood out to me as you get out of being in a team what you put in. A team is a family in itself, a group that has your back when you need help. Winning isn’t everything, but instead it is about the time you spend together and the memories you make along the way.

What did you think of this movie? Let me know in the comments. Until next time!

Prediction Time: 2021 Schmoedown Mid-Season Star Wars Tournament

Prediction Time: 2021 Schmoedown Mid-Season Star Wars Tournament

While the Mid-Season Teams Tournament may have only just kicked off, those are far from the only high stakes matches taking place in May as we prepare for the beginning of the Mid-Season Star Wars Tournament. Similar to the ongoing Teams Tournament, each of the 8 factions has entered a Schmoedown Pro into the tournament, with the overall winner earning a title shot against either Andrew Dimalanta, Alex Damon or Laura Kelly, depending who is the Champion by that point.

The contenders taking part are:

  • Gold Leader (1-0) – The Finstock Exchange
  • Eric “The Knight” Whiteley (0-1) – The Quirky Mercs
  • “Marvellous” Marie Wilson (1-0) – The Usual Suspects
  • “The Major” Thomas Harper (1-0) – The Den
  • Adam “The Razor” Witt (0-3) – The Dungeon
  • Andres “Ace” Cabrera (4-1) – S.W.A.G.
  • Sean “The Saint” Sullivan (1-2) – KOrruption
  • Zack Burkett (0-0) – The Stars

I recently made my predictions for how the Teams Tournament bracket would play out and as always seems to be the way, my bracket was already broken by the end of the first match. However, not to be deterred, I’m back again looking at the Star Wars tournament and hoping the Force will be with me as I make my predictions.

MTS 2021 Star Wars Tournament 1 Bracket

Round 1

Wilson v Gold Leader: In a match between 2 rookies with 1-0 records, there is very little to go on to make a prediction here. Marie may be the defending Dragon Con Champion, but looking back at her and Gold Leader’s debut’s, Gold Leader had slightly better accuracy through Rounds 1 and 2, though neither had to face the critical 5-point question. Don’t be surprised if this match comes down to the 5-pointer, but I can see Gold Leader having slightly more success than his namesake did in the Battle of Yavin.

Burkett v Witt: Poor Adam Witt is in the unenviable position of having the worst record of all active participants in the division. I must admit that I was initially surprised to see Kaiser pick him over John Hoey or Mollie Damon… and then I saw his match against Thomas Harper. While he came out on the losing side, this was by far his most impressive performance, missing the opening question but going perfect thereafter. As for Burkett, we know very little about him as he comes into the tournament without any previous matches. I’m sure that Roxy Striar and Alex Damon will have been coaching Burkett on strategy and gameplay, but could that lack of experience prove costly? Witt’s performance against Harper would have beaten most competitors in the division; he’s due a win and I think that it’s finally happening here.

Cabrera v Sullivan: Ace was the Cinderella story of season 7, having played in 1 3v2 Teams match in Season 2 and been humbled in his Season 7 IG debut against Robert Parker, before going on a magical run through last season’s Star Wars Tournament to earn a shot at Alex Damon at Spectacular. Things didn’t go his way in the Championship match, and now the question will be how he can bounce back, especially now that Winston also has Laura Kelly on the faction. He goes up against Sean Sullivan, who has struggled to get the results since a debut victory against Adam Witt. Sullivan has consistently put in decent performances, but Cabrera has shown the ability to go perfect and will be looking to show that his TKO loss to Alex Damon was an aberration. KOrruption will have some strong tournament runs this season, but I think that Sullivan’s ends here.

Harper v Whiteley: As a multiple-time winner of Dragon Con and someone who has a strong record in that competition against Alex Damon, Harper came into the league with a big reputation, which was only enhanced by his debut victory over Adam Witt, which saw him get 100% accuracy and only check down to multiple choice once in Round 2. Eric Whiteley did not have as much of a successful debut, but has a lot of support behind him from the Blind Wave fans and Quirky Mercs alike. Only a fool would rule out Whiteley, but he’s likely going to have to go perfect to keep up with Harper, who I see going on to the semis. 


Gold Leader v Adam Witt: With a 2-0 record by this point to Witt’s 3-1, Gold Leader will come in as the favourite. However, Witt has the support of 2 other Star Wars specialists and IG Champion Mara Knopic in the Dungeon and will be fired up after getting his first ever Schmoedown victory. While I can see this one going either way, I think that Witt will feed on both his momentum and the Dungeon’s success to put one over on the Exchange. 

Cabrera v Harper: It honestly feels like this could be a final, such will be the quality on show. Both have shown the ability to go 100% accurate and it feels like one wrong answer or check down to multiple choice will decide the match. While Cabrera has the experience, I can see Harper taking the win in Sudden Death.


Witt v Harper: And so we reach the final, and to add even more drama to the match it is a rematch and a chance for Adam Witt to get revenge on Thomas Harper. Both will be in very different places to where they were in their first match, with Harper now a seasoned pro and Witt now on a run of wins. While I expect this to be another close match, I think that this will be the end of Adam Witt’s run as Harper will emerge victorious.

mts thomas harper

Do you agree with my picks? If not, how do you see the tournament panning out?

Thanks for reading. May the Force be with you….