British Tennis: Thriving not just Surviving

Great British tennis is in possibly the best position it has been since the days of Fred Perry. The Davis Cup win this year over Belgium was an achievement that has drawn attention to state of the tennis.

Other than of course the hero and messiah of British tennis, Andy Murray there are three other men that are fighting fit for the country at singles level.

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Andy Murray kisses the Wimbledon trophy after beating Novak Djokovic

Here are the three in numbers:

Kyle Edmund
Age: 20
Best Grand Slam Finish: French Open 2nd Round (2015)
World Ranking: 102

James Ward
Age: 28
Best Grand Slam Finish: Wimbledon 3rd Round (2015)
World Ranking: 155

Dan Evans
Age: 25
Best Grand Slam Finish: US Open 3rd Round (2013)
World Ranking: 185

KYLE EDMUND
Kyle Edmund and James Ward both competed in the Davis Cup final and Dan Evans competed in the semi-final and was still awarded a medal after the resounding 3-1 win.

Kyle Edmund’s young career has started brightly after having been dubbed the ‘golden boy’ of Great Britain following his junior Grand Slam wins in the USA and France a few years ago.

His most recent title that is before winning the Davis Cup was the Copa Fila in November. Edmund’s performance in that tournament as he beat Berlocq gained him the final place in the Davis Cup team over Daniel Evans.

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Kyle Edmund

The British number three has been given a place in the upcoming Australian Open which starts next month following the withdrawal of Gasquet.

His Davis Cup performance in itself was a superb achievement, the fact he took two sets off Belgian number one Goffin before he ran out of steam was a wonderfully powerful display.

The Australian Open is a big chance for the young British star to prove himself on the big stage. The Grand Slam tournaments are a massive step up even from a Davis Cup final.

JAMES WARD
The 28 year old British number four had a good 2015 with two big wins over marathon match winner John Isner. This included a first round Davis Cup win.

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James Ward

With James Ward also managing to qualify for all but one of the Grand Slams in 2015 says a great deal about the player he is. The French Open which he missed out on he qualified for in 2014 for the first time.

James Ward had a wonderful Wimbledon campaign and he opened the tournament well advancing to the third round for the first time in his career.

Vasek Pospisil was his opponent and the Canadian number two was made to work for his victory in a five set epic, Pospisil advanced all the way to the quarter-final.

DAN EVANS
The British number five although not a feature of the Davis Cup final team was a vital part of the previous rounds with a huge win in the semi-final.

Evans is a powerful player and offers a lot with his right handed forehand being a really potent weapon. His 2013 appearance in the 3rd round of a Grand Slam looked promising. Now though it looks as though that may have been false hope but the 25 year old is still progressing.

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Dan Evans

His win in Knoxville was not quite enough to usurp either Edmund or Ward to play in the final but he still produced a quite sublime tournament in the United States which will aid his development.

With Wimbledon just over six months away it looks like British tennis is in a very good place, especially on the men’s side.

British Men’s Rankings (Top 5)

  1. Andy Murray
  2. Aljaž Bedene
  3. Kyle Edmund
  4. James Ward
  5. Dan Evans
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The Fall of Vanchester

Louis van Gaal, hailed as the man to return Manchester United to the glory days following a lacklustre tenure for David Moyes who succeeded the special and unique Sir Alex Ferguson after an unprecedented 27 years as the top man at Old Trafford.

The Dutchman has gone from the messiah to the damned after a tough season so far. Following another summer full of spending including the high profile arrivals of youngster Memphis Depay and World Cup winner Schweinsteiger.

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Memphis Depay has been a flop since arriving at Old Trafford.

The Red Devils were the only English side to crash out of the Champions League after just the group stage. Manchester United’s supposed saviour has lost his way with a team full of superstars from all over Europe.

The pressure on Van Gaal is huge and with the results failing to materialise and with Premier League already having seen the sacking of Mourinho and Brendan Rodgers that has rocked the whole division.

Jose-Mourinho

José Mourinho was sacked earlier this season for a poor start to the season with Chelsea.

With Manchester United having not won a Premier League game since the 21st November, that is not good enough for the most successful club in English football of all time. Since which time they have slipped from 2nd to 6th which frankly is not good enough.

The losses to Norwich and Bournemouth will hurt and the admissions of Louis Van Gaal that Manchester United are no longer the team they once were and that the club are in crisis will not have warmed the fans to the Dutch general at the helm.

Manchester United are nine points off Arsenal who lead the charge they are also nine goals off the impressive goal difference of the table toppers. Only eight wins halfway through the season is unacceptable for the majority of Premier League teams.

The fact that Depay is failing to live up to the lofty expectations that demanded £25 million for the 21 year old. Since arriving at Old Trafford the Dutch forward has only netted two goals which values each goal at £12.5 million not even some of the wonderful goals that Wayne Rooney has scored before are worth such a hefty amount of cash.

The loss of Van Persie and Hernandez seems to have hurt Manchester United with only seven teams scoring less goals than the 13 times champions. With only Martial and Rooney their only real goalscorers in the side.

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Robin Van Persie was deemed surplus to requirements over a summer that saw a number of high profile players leave Old Trafford.

The remark from Alex Ferguson that he will step in to the breach to help Ryan Giggs who is already being given the go ahead as if Van Gaal has already been sacked.

 

It looks as though time may finally be up for the former Holland hero.

 

Louis Van Gaal in Numbers

Money Spent: £230 million
Players Bought: 12
Players Sold: 25

Eddie’s New England

The appointment of Eddie Jones and this new revamped idea of England and how this no holds barred, shackles off style of play will be employed echoes the promises of Stuart Lancaster we had four years ago.

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Eddie Jones was appointed following England’s disappointing World Cup.

The same old promises, the same sense of excitement among self proclaimed rugby connoisseurs, this fresh English approach, the supposed way forward. How does this ‘new age’ differ from the corporate, professional, emotionless, jargon loaded monologue we were fed four years ago?

The first big difference is the fact we have a rugby mad coach at the helm. This is no longer the schoolteacher and his pupils. Eddie Jones breathes rugby and has success in the sport running in his veins his teams have dominated headlines in three of the last four World Cups.

In 2003, Australia hosted a great tournament from an English perspective, Australia also made the final. A very tough semi-final encounter against the All Blacks was possibly the best game I had seen Australia play over the course of the tournament. They won at a canter.

2007 saw Eddie Jones with another finalist, this time though he won with Jake White’s Springboks and Eddie Jones had his revenge over England. This was a side that dominated rugby with players like Habana, Du Preez and Smit all now recognised as some of the best players to have graced the game.

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Bryan Habana in action for South Africa at 2011 World Cup.

This year Jones once again showed what his teams can do on the global stage with Japan. They announced themselves in England in dramatic fashion securing their first World Cup victory over South Africa. Inspired by the likes of Ayumu Goromaru, Fumiaki Tanaka and Michael Leitch saw them go on to also beat Samoa and USA, only losing to Scotland.

Despite this impressive record indeed winning more games than England they failed to qualify for the quarter-finals due to bonus points. That went down to the final game of the pool as Scotland scraped past Samoa to secure a place in the last eight.

These three wins were impressive in themselves, most importantly the win over South Africa a feat England have failed to achieve over the past four years. Eddie Jones had masterminded a win over one of the greatest rugby nations on the planet it was quite some feat for the Brave Blossoms and one that will live long in the memory.

Eddie Jones also elevated national Japanese players to new heights despite former coach John Kirwan’s desire to make it a Japanese Barbarians sort of team with little national identity.

Tanaka is plying his trade with the Highlanders in New Zealand and fullback Goromaru is due to play for the Queensland Reds when the 2016 Super Rugby season begins and his name is being muttered in hushed tones to replace Leigh Halfpenny at Toulon when the Welsh maestro leaves either to return to Wales or to link up with former Cardiff coach Dai Young at Wasps.

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Goromaru scored a try against South Africa.

Eddie Jones has been handed arguably the biggest job in world rugby right now to a premature fanfare. So let’s stop the corporate, professional talking and stop the speculation about where England will be in four years. Stop all the reflection on the past and why it didn’t work out for Lancaster. It’s time to see what England can do and that starts with Scotland on 6th February.

England Six Nations Fixtures

06/02/16, Scotland, Murrayfield
14/02.16, Italy, Stadio Olimpico
27/02/16, Ireland, Twickenham
12/03/16, Wales, Twickenham
19/03/16, France, Stade de France

Klopp Resurrecting Liverpool

Liverpool one of the great clubs in the Premier League left reeling after a season of poor results and losing arguably their greatest players ever, Steven Gerrard.

Rodgers left and the Anfield board decided that the flamboyant German, Jurgen Klopp as the new manager in the north west.

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Klopp has been a hugely successful manager at his former clubs including Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund. He managed an incredible two consecutive Bundesliga titles with Dortmund and he also led the side to a Champions League final which they narrowly lost to Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich.

The ‘normal one’ as he has dubbed himself in response to ‘The Special One’ tag linked to manager Mourinho.

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Klopp arrived at Liverpool to a great fanfare from fans and pundits alike, hoping and expecting an impact from the manager.

Two huge away results have made it look as though the appointment of Klopp could be inspired. The 4-1 win over Manchester City in the Premier League and the 6-1 obliteration of Southampton in the Capital One Cup make it look as though good things could be improving for the Anfield based club.

Klopp has also looked to youth to resurrect this team, with one man making a real difference to Klopp’s new team. Young English midfielder Jordan Ibe has made a real splash since Klopp joined.

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Ibe has some really quick feet, good skills and youth, is he the complete player? Of course not but his potential is something that could make him very important to the future of Liverpool.

This brave new era is looking promising for Liverpool and if Klopp can continue to improve the form of his new club a title could be in the pipeline for the club.