PL x Poch

PL x Poch. He won’t go. Will he?

Mauricio Pochettino has undoubtedly performed a minor miracle in recent seasons, cementing Tottenham Hotspur’s place in the top four of the Premier League.

For four seasons running now, Spurs have finished in the Champions League places. Even finishing runners-up in the 16/17 Premier League season.

So what is it that has led to their downturn in fortunes this season?

Following last seasons emphatic Champions League run that saw Poch’s men lose in the final to domestic rivals Liverpool, Spurs have failed to make hay whilst the sun shines and sit in seventh in the league this season.

Not only that, but the North London side was knocked out of the League Cup this week in a defeat to League Two side Colchester United. 

A defeat that has ignited debate amongst Spurs and football fans alike. Should Poch remain in charge?

In answer to the first question, what has led to Spurs downturn in fortunes, I would suggest it’s a lack of confidence and a lack of unity amongst the squad.

Last season, was by no stretch of the imagination, a mentally and physically draining one for Spurs. They reached the final of the Champions League (beating Ajax in the semi-final having looked set to be knocked out by the Dutch champions.) 

Within the 58 games that they played last season, Tottenham featured in the League Cup until defeat in the semi-final to London rivals Chelsea whilst fighting on the F.A. Cup for just two rounds until their defeat against Crystal Palace.

Not only did Pochettino lead his side in 58 games last season but the whole new stadium saga continued to roll, as stories from behind the scenes began to leak into the national press. It couldn’t have been easy to concentrate on your job 100% with stories about your club on the back page of every paper across the country every other day.

The cherry on top of the cake for Spurs is the transfer speculation that followed them around this summer. More specifically the speculation around one of their star players, Denmark international Christian Eriksen.

Yep, the playmaker was often said to be joining former Tottenham star Gareth Bale at the Bernabeu, but nothing ever came of it.

It makes absolute sense that Eriksen’s head was turned by the prospect of moving to Spain, where he could win more trophies and all in a much warmer climate than the unpredictable UK.

So Eriksen being less than concentrated on Spurs and their fight to establish dominance in the league, a stadium move that was unpredicatble and a taxing season last season will all be playing apart in the current demise of Tottenham but that brings me onto the next question; is Pochettino the right man to take this side to the next level?

There is little doubt in anyone who knows anything about football, how much quality Poch possesses as a manager.

The Argentine has provided Spurs fans with some truly memorable moments but last seasons Champions League run has to top it.

It was a less than ideal start when Tottenham travelled to Milan and lost before falling to defeat at home to Barcleona, but from there they kicked on.

Four more group games came and Spurs took every one in their stride. Two wins and two draws saw them qualify for the last 16. A 4-0 aggregate win over German outfit Borussia Dortmund gave Manchester City a crack at showing Poch up. But…

VAR played it’s part in the two legged affair that would end 4-4, with Spurs going through to the semi-finals thanks to the (ridiculous) away goal rule.

Ajax were drawn away at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium where they would run out 1-0 winners, but as Spurs travelled to the Netherlands it was all to play for and boy did it give us some viewing.

In arguably one of the games of the season, Spurs came out on top but not after a rollercoaster of emotions. At half time the score was Ajax 2-0 Spurs (3-0 on aggregate) but the second half is what really shone the light on how good of a manager Mauricio Pochettino is.

A second half hat trick from Lucas Moura saw them qualify on the away goal rule AGAIN. But it was a truly spirited, together and passionate performance from the players in the Spurs shirts.

It showed they weren’t just playing for themselves, or the shirt or even the fans. But they were playing for their manager and that is the biggest compliment players can give to a manager and the scenes after the game truly showed that as Poch was in tears and I’m sure the celebrations went deep into the night.

For me, it’s not a case of is Poch the man to take Spurs forward. It’s are Spurs the side to take Poch forward. He is undoubtedly one of the best managers in the world at this moment in time, to take Spurs where he did having not made any signings for two windows was a miracle and he’s got a young team playing some really brave football.

Listen, he won’t be there forever of course he won’t. But Tottenham fans I urge you to have patience and remember the grass isn’t always greener, make the most of Poch whilst you can before he’s poached by one of the worlds biggest sides be it Barca, Real or United.


Dan talks about his love for international football in the latest DF x DW.


For many, the international break is seen as something of a hindrance. An unwanted, enforced break from the exhilarating standard of club football being played across the continent, in which, especially when it is the turn of European Qualifiers, matches are played with a mundane intensity and a frequent gulf in class. 

And you’d be right, if you watch the more ‘mainstream’ matches. Tune into Spain vs Faroe Islands, Belgium vs San Marino, or Italy vs Finland, and you’ll get an encounter that matches the description above. One side, boasting evident prowess and a sense of superiority, against a minnow, happy to play backs-to-the-wall football and hope that the scoreline doesn’t embarrass them by the time ninety minutes of gruelling defending has passed them by. 

But, head down the beaten track to some of the less publicised matches, and you’ll find bundles of under-appreciated teams, who’s opportunity to qualify for a major tournament is not seen as an automatic right like it is here in England, but instead, is a nationwide dream. An obsession. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, that fills out stadiums and sends an entire, starry-eyed, football-loving population, into overdrive. 

Take Kosovo, England’s most recent opponents . Before the game, the nation who only gained recognition from FIFA to play international football in 2016, boasted the longest unbeaten run in European national football until that 5-3 defeat at St Mary’s. And for the country itself, which has only existed formally since 2008, to already be capable of scoring three goals against a superpower like England, is nothing short of remarkable. They are vying with Czech Republic to genuinely challenge England for qualification in Group A, which if they achieve it, will surely go down as one of the greatest footballing fairytales ever to have taken place on the international stage. 

Elsewhere, in Group J, Armenia and Finland are fascinatingly neck-and-neck in a similar situation, vying with Italy for top spot. Two unlikely contenders, genuine underdogs, who have already stunned Bosnia & Herzegovina and Greece, sides who have plenty of pedigree on this stage let’s not forget, for whom an opportunity to line up at Euro 2020 would mean just about everything. Just look at Iceland’s heroics at Euro 2016 for what qualification for a major tournament can do for a small nation’s footballing status. 

And if you look even further abroad, every single qualifier played between African teams is free to stream on FIFA’s website. And for those amongst you that are as big of an AFCON fan as I am, this should really appeal you. The sheer madness of African international football, the rhythmic passion, the frantic intensity, completely cost-free. If you want entertainment from your international break, you just have to look harder for it. 

Furthermore, you shouldn’t tar all of international football with the same brush. The Nations League has been a resounding success in my opinion, replacing dreary friendlies with highly competitive encounters, between sides of almost identical ability. It is a competition that will only grow in both popularity and in how important it is perceived to be, but the inaugural showcase was very positive indeed. 

So, to conclude, I can fully understand people’s hesitations with international football. The small proportion of it that is provided to us by the mainstream channels perfectly explains such complaints, but we have an underlying arrogance – a bias toward the highest calibre of football – in this country, which has prevented us from seeing the true beauty of international football, in countries where it really matters. So, next time that club football does cease, and we see our respective nations take to the field once again, delve a little deeper into our beautiful game. Broaden your footballing horizons. 

Who knows? You might just love it as much as I do. 

PL x Pukki

PL x Pukki. Some start.

One of the most unsurprising surprise packages of this Premier League season is Norwich’s frontman Teemu Pukki.

The Fin has started the season in blistering form, hitting the net six times in five appearances in what is his first season in the English top flight.

The Canaries have meant business since their return to the Prem this season, having won the Championship title last season and Pukki played a big part in the show too.

In fact, being Norwich’s main man last season meant that Teemu Pukki finished the season on 29 league goals in his 43 matches that he featured in, an outstanding stat.

In only his second season in England, Pukki has netted against the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and in the Canaries 3-2 victory over Manchester City on the weekend. An honourable mention must also go to the hat-trick that he bagged against Newcastle in just his second Premier League game (EVER).

An international star for his native Finland, Pukki has some real good qualities that have helped him become the star of the show in East Anglia.

Being a late bloomer, Pukki possesses some skills that really allow him to play freely. His link up play is sharp, his movement is unrivalled at the moment and his explosive finishing means he is likely to set the cat amongst the pigeons when it comes to the golden boot in April/May.

It remains to be seen whether Pukki will launch himself into super stardom in the Premier League, but he’ll certainly be remembered for his aggressively good start to the season.



The PL X series is back with the newest in football technology in the spotlight, stay with us as we look at the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) in the Premier League this season.

You could be forgiven for thinking that the introduction of VAR would make the Premier League more entertaining and fair but it has not been received well at all… apart from by Spurs fans.

The latest team to really suffer at the hands of VAR was Aston Villa in their away game against Crystal Palace.

Being 1-0 down away from home is never an easy task to manoeuvre but in the very last minute of the game at Selhurst Park, Villa looked to have got a very important point before referee Kevin Friend consulted VAR and ruled out the strike by Henri Lansbury.

In a statement, the Premier League said: “The referee considered that Jack Grealish committed an act of simulation in the penalty area, and blew his whistle to stop the game before the ball went into goal.

“Under the IFAB protocol the video assistant referee system (VAR) is allowed to review the potential penalty situation. Having reviewed the incident the VAR judged that no ‘clear and obvious’ error had occurred and the on-field decision of simulation remained.”

In my personal opinion, VAR will eventually better the game. There are so many refinements and so much clarity that needs introducing to the process but ultimately once the powers that be have gone through it with a fine tooth comb it will mean a more consistent approach to the laws of the game being abided.

For now, fans in the stadiums will have to persevere with the constant waiting whilst referees consult with there counterparts in the office and teams will feel the nerves as they ponder any little aspects of goals or decisions made.

Whether you like it or not VAR is here to stay. It’s still the same game of football, just reimagined.

Jack Dawson.

PL X Rashford

PL X Rashford

The weekend saw the return of the English Premier League, and it started as I am sure it will go on.

Not only that but the return of the Premier League sees the introduction of the new feature here at DF HQ, the PL X series.

One of THE biggest talking points of the opening weekend was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United side beating Frank Lampard’s Chelsea in what was the Englishmans first competitive game in charge.

During the 4-0 thrashing of Chelsea at Old Trafford, United’s front two of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford performed at close to their full potential. They alternated perfectly between each other and covered each others position.

Marcus Rashford is the player that impressed us most here at Dawson Football. The young English talent showed his scoring touch once again, grabbing two of the four goals. The first from the penalty spot following a clumsy challenge from Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma.

The penalty was cool, calm and collected as you’d expect from the forward but it’s his second goal that really got the critics purring.

After Martial had put United two in front, it took just two minutes for Rashford to put United out of reach and give them a great start to the season.

Paul Pogba played an outstanding pass from his own half that bypassed both Chelsea’s midfield and defence that Rashford latched on to, with an almost perfect touch putting the ball in the perfect place for him to despatch it past Kepa in the Blues goal.

Even with the experienced Chelsea skipper, Cesar Azpilicueta, on his back Rashford looked like a veteran in the striking game as the ball was slotted underneath Kepa.

Fans View

In a new feature for the season, I spoke to Manchester United fan and friend of DF, Alex Dawson, to get his views on just how good Rashford was.

“I thought Marcus played well, as always he was quick and sharp and always looking to get into space beyond the defence.

This season the team will rely on his output much more with the departure of Romelu Lukaku and this new system that Ole is implementing plays to his strengths and should hopefully help him to have his most productive campaign to date.”

Follow all things football @DawsonFtbl on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Or tweet #DawsonFootball.

DF Previews…

Richie previews his teams upcoming season.


Manager: Marco Silva

Last season: 8th   

key player 

Andre Gomes, he ran almost every game he played in last season, including the Derby at Anfield, best footballer I’ve seen in an Everton shirt for years. Never looks under pressure and has a nasty streak so he’s not shy putting his foot in. Absolute bargain at £22 MM.


Gomes, Delph and Lossl 

Have to say Gomes again. £22MM is nothing these days and for someone who would get into most teams midfield, it’s an absolute snip. I think Delph is a great signing too and again a proper bargain. £9MM for someone who has captained England, played for the Champions regularly and who’s attitude and experience will be so valuable .


Although I rate Calvert-Lewin very highly I don’t think he will score enough goals to push us on to the next level.

That said, if we are going to buy a striker then it has to be a proven Premier League goal scorer like Diego Costa, not pay over the odds for someone who ‘might’ do ok. I would still keep Calvert-Lewin involved though as he offers so much more than just goals.


I think it’s a massive opportunity for the likes of us, Leicester, Wolves and maybe even West Ham to push for a top 6 and maybe even a top 4 finish.

Man Utd need players, Arsenal only have 2 players I’d take and Chelsea have took a gamble on Lampard. It’s a huge opportunity and one I hope that we can take.


Liverpool at Anfield.

I love and hate this fixture in equal measure as the derby is the only game that makes me nervous, plus the fact we haven’t won there since the nineties will make it even better if we do.


FA Cup or Carabao Cup.

I expect to win one of these. We need to go all out to win something as it’s been too long. We should field a full strength side in every game, winning games and having a cup run can only breed confidence which would hopefully then run on into the league and having a cup 

DF Previews…


Manager: Sean Dyche

Last season: 15th   

key player 

Arguably our biggest asset at the moment and potentially one of the most underrated players in the division, Ben Mee, is a critical player for us. He featured in every league game last season and his natural willingness to defend at all costs played a major factor in the club securing European football, just two seasons ago.


It has been a quiet market in many respects with only two first team additions. The arrival of Erik Pieters is a good thing, he will definitely provide added competition alongside Charlie Taylor at left-back. Although, our second signing has to be my favourite. The return of the prodigal son, Jay Rodriguez. Having left for Southampton to fulfill his potential, now he’s home, where he belongs. Another signing we’ve made is a rather low key one, Ryan Cooney has joined the U23 setup, but he actually featured quite regularly last season at first team level for Bury. I’d keep an eye out for him!


We’ve been linked with various players in recent weeks, some reported to be wide of the mark, but one of the names I personally am intrigued about a name doing the rounds, is Joakim Mæhle, who is a Danish right-back. He currently plays for Genk in Belgium and at just 21, he’s rated as one of the better players in the division.


Most of the bookmakers have us down for another tough season, which is fair enough to be honest. Although, in all fairness the core base of the team heading into next season did predominantly feature in 2017/18 on our way to a 7thplace finish. There is clear ability in the squad. 


Liverpool at home, August 31st, promises to be a good match. The Champions of Europe at Turf Moor, what more could you hope for?


Realistically no. It would be nice to have a good run out in the cup and potentially get a look at some of our youth, particularly in the opening rounds, the likes of Ali Koiki and Jimmy Dunne maybe. However, the added fixture could prove too much for us.

@burnleh_chat on Twitter

DF Previews…

David previews his teams upcoming season…

West Ham

Manager: Manuel Pellegrini

Last season: 1oth   

key player 

Many will say Felipe Anderson who can be a match winner, however, key player could be A Yarmolenko who was just beginning to settle in English football last season when unfortunately, was injured and side lined for the entire campaign. Fit again should bring goals, pace and skill to the side.


Matt Smith – Forward from QPR

Pablo Fornals 


David Martin 

Sebastien Haller 

Having signed two goalkeepers to replace the outgoing Adrian both of whom will be squad players and back up to Fabianski the highlight could be either Fornals or Haller both of whom could have a major impact on the team. Hammers have a disappointing list of Strikers for many seasons so here is hoping that Haller can finally be the signing to get the goals. 


We needed a Striker and that box is ticked (hopefully), however, one further Striker is required I would have taken a gamble on Daniel Sturridge but possibly we could take Danny Welbeck for nothing. A Left Back is needed as cover and/or to replace Aaron Cresswell. 


Expect to finish in the Top 10 again, however, see no reason why the team cannot push for 7th or 8th place finish. Why? We have a very good Manager and have many talented players within the squad they just need to improve on consistency and travel better. The Top 6 will remain as is potentially for the foreseeable future, however, 7th down is up for grabs for about 10 of the remaining 14 teams. 


Look forward to every game but probably Tottenham Hotspur is one of the highlights of the season. 


West Ham never expect to win a trophy!! Once you get to the latter stages of the Cup it becomes available to anyone you just need a bit of luck or the right draw. We will take the League Cup!! 

DF Previews…

Alex previews his teams upcoming season.

Manchester United

Manager: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Last season: 6th   

key player 

Assuming that Pogba stays at the club for another season (which I personally think he will), he will undoubtedly be our key player for the coming campaign. You can see the difference in our play with him in the team as clear as night and day. He is the main creative force in our side and last season was our top scorer. Hopefully with a few more of the right additions around the rest of the team, we can begin to see greater consistency in his performances across the season and he can re-find the form he showed at the beginning of Ole’s reign. Pogba aside, this is a big season for both Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, both of whom are entering their fifth campaign with the first team and it’s likely time we begin to see more big performances from the young forwards. Ole’s playing philosophy and emphasis and quick, young players means that everything seems set for these two, amongst others, to have their best campaigns yet.


So far this summer we have seen the arrivals of Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Swansea and Crystal Palace respectively. It also looks increasingly likely that a deal for Harry Maguire should be tied up before long reportedly for a record fee for a central defender. My personal favourite so far would have to be Wan-Bissaka, statistically the best full back in the league last season he is a clear upgrade on the veteran Ashley Young and fills a gap in our time which has been there for numerous seasons; a specialist right back ready to go straight into the XI and with bags of potential, I think we’ve got a great deal which will benefit us for years to come.


Given that Maguire looks set to arrive at the club, my personal choice for the next signing would be Ruben Neves from Wolves. It baffles me that no top clubs have been reported to have interest in the Portuguese midfielder, he’d be a first class addition to the side who lack depth and quality in the midfield area and could help to free up Paul Pogba. Further up the pitch, I would love to see Jadon Sancho arrive to take up the spot on the right flank. Signing Wan-Bissaka has solved half of our problem don’t the right side of the team, and Sancho would be perfect to fill the long standing void on the right hand side of our attack. He’s young, quick, incredibly technically gifted and would light up Old Trafford whilst also taking some of the creative burden from Paul Pogba.


Assuming we make the right additions to the team, I’d say we can hopefully expect a fourth place finish in the league. As United fans we need to be realistic and accept that for the next few seasons we may not be challenging for the top honours, but a return to the Champions League is essential if we are to continue to attract the top talents and keep the talent which we already have.


I’m looking forward to the opening game of the season, despite the form we should at the end of the last campaign, I’m excited and intrigued to see our new players in action and see exactly what Ole and his team have been working on over the summer.


I don’t expect us to win a trophy this season, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see us get to the latter stages of either of the domestic cups.

@daaawsonn on Twitter.

DF Previews…

Dan previews his teams upcoming season.

Aston Villa

Manager: Dean Smith 

Last season: 5th (Promoted via Play-Offs

key player 

Jack Grealish – our captain, our best player and by far the most influential player on the pitch. He’s at the heart of everything that we do. 

Though you could argue it is now Wesley Moraes, because our new record signing looks to have become burdened with being our primary goal threat this season.


Wesley: £22m

Tyrone Mings: £20m

 Matt Targett: £17m

 Ezri Konsa: £12m

 Anwar El Ghazi: £8m

 Jota: £4m

 Kortney Hause: £3m

 Total: £86m 


 Douglas Luiz: £15m

 Bjorn Engels: £7m

I, personally, would say that the best piece of business we’ve conducted is Man City’s Douglas Luiz. Though, at the time of writing, the transfer has not been finalised, to sign Brazil’s U-23 captain, the golden ball winner at the recent Toulon Tournament and a player Pep Guardiola wanted in his squad for last season (but for a failed work permit) is a huge coup for just £15M.


We seem to be in the market for a new goalkeeper, but a new, yet proven and well-established right-winger is essential in my eyes. Though El Ghazi and Wesley are both very capable players, they are both very young and inexperienced at Premier League level. To have another player in that front three that we can rely on would be ideal.

We were linked with Pablo Fornals before West Ham signed him. Somebody of that stature is what I have in mind.


For any newly-promoted side, survival is the obvious and immediate target. But I truly believe in this squad, the coaching staff and the board, which combined with the fact we look set to spend almost £125M this window, means I think we could place very respectably this year.


We’re back in the big time, after a three-year absence, so I can’t wait to see us square up against the top six once again. Going away to Spurs on the opening weekend is a perfect way to kick-off our campaign.


No, not just yet. Though if we can guarantee survival early on, a nice run in the FA Cup wouldn’t go amiss.

@_DJMW on Twitter.